Norwich Commencement | The Graduates: Kenneth Sikora ’16

Photo: Kenneth Sikora poses in white lab coat before chalkboard

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Kenneth Sikora ’16

Hometown: Calais, Vt.
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Biology
Student Path: Commuter

  • Academic Honors Program
  • Norwich University Fencing Club
  • Chameleon Literary Journal
  • Summer Research Internship
  • Undergraduate Research Program Ambassador
  • Published research in The Oswald Review + the International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics


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What Norwich Taught Me

“[Norwich] taught me all the basics of performing research—formulating a research question [and/or] hypothesis, writing a proposal, troubleshooting, failing, and communicating results with an audience comprised of individuals who are not familiar with my field’s lingo.”

“I am deeply grateful to all the professors who taught me,” says graduating senior Kenneth Sikora. “Without venturing into hyperbole, the least I can say is essentially every one of them was a generous, kind, patient, and knowledgeable teacher.”

Sikora plans to attend medical school in the future, where he hopes to train as a general practitioner. During three intense years at Norwich, he solidified his love for language and chemistry, he says, and led the fencing club while completing NU’s academically rigorous honors track.

Inspired during a world literature course with writing professor Sean Prentiss, Sikora became interested in the translation of medieval Chinese poetry. He began work on Lady Su Hui’s Star Gauge, written in A.D. 360, and plans to continue the project after graduation. He also published a refereed journal paper on Beowulf and edited the campus literary journal, the Chameleon.

In the lab, Sikora studied bioinformatics among other topics, examining the differential expression of genes behind certain types of cancers as part of a research project. He developed a protocol to express the H.pylori enzyme NDGluRS in E.coli bacteria with Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Chemistry Ethan Guth. He also worked with Associate Professor of Chemistry Seth Frisbie to test the fit of calibration curves, which are often used to convert electrical signals to chemical concentrations.

Asked to comment on a highlight of his time at Norwich, he says, “My experience was that the whole time was a highlight, with only one or two dim spots. Perhaps my introduction to the field of research was brighter than the rest. But my first organic chemistry class was equally thrilling at the time.”

Norwich University Computer Security Program Supports Cybersecurity at Super Bowl 50

Five Norwich CSIA students and their professor stand outside Levi Stadium, site of Super Bowl 50
Norwich University Office of Communications

February 5, 2015

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University computer security and information assurance (CSIA) program, with students operating both onsite in California and on campus, will support Santa Clara Police Department, the lead law enforcement agency at Super Bowl 50, and the law enforcement and homeland security functions leading up to and during this international sporting event.

Norwich University is the only educational institution invited to participate in support of the public safety team tasked with safeguarding Super Bowl 50. With support from its campus based Global Threat Observatory, Norwich cybersecurity students will participate in the Super Bowl 50 Critical Infrastructure & Cyber Protection Sub Committee. This committee is led by Detective Sergeant Ray Carreira ’96 of the Santa Clara Police Department, the lead law enforcement agency for the event.

Three Norwich CSIA majors and NU cyberczar Phil Susmann '81 speak on campus about Super Bowl 50Throughout 2015 CSIA students worked with this team in preparation for this globally televised event and formed partnerships with leading software developers to support their work.

Levi’s Stadium, home of Super Bowl 50, is the most technologically capable stadium in the world. In preparation, CSIA students attended Wrestlemania and a major soccer match for fact-finding and familiarization with the security environment.

Super Bowl 50 will be broadcast in over 180 countries in 25 languages and is expected to reach over 115 million households in the USA, making it the most viewed event in history.

“I have been so impressed by these Norwich students and their professionalism, their ability to solve complex problems and the ease with which they have integrated into this intense law enforcement environment,” said Captain Phil Cooke, Santa Clara Police Department Super Bowl 50 Commander.

The Norwich University cybersecurity program began in 1999.

Ranked #2 by the Ponemon Institute for cyber security in the U.S., Norwich University programs are consistently ranked among the best in the nation for cyber security education.  Norwich University is recognized as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and has received designation as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3). Beginning in 2002, Norwich University became a member of what is now called National Science Foundation’s Cyber Corps: Scholarship for Service program. Norwich is partnered with the United States Army Reserves (USAR) to develop cyber-education curricula that align with federal standards and cybersecurity needs.

“When I read about all the impressive work Norwich is doing with cyber, I took the opportunity to connect that expertise to a function for law enforcement of this major event,” Carreira said.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here:    

Media Contact:
Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
Office Tel: (802) 485-2886
Mobile: (802) 595-3613

Financial Services Internship Helps Chart Future

Working at National Life Group “helped introduce me to the industry and provided some insight into what I could possibly do after college,” Ranson Hudson reports.
By Ranson Hudson ’15, Accounting & Business Management Major
School of Business & Management

October 22, 2014

This summer I interned with Equity Services Incorporated (ESI) the in-house broker/dealer and one of four companies that make up the National Life Group, a diversified insurance and financial services corporation based in Montpelier, Vt. Interning at ESI, I was introduced to all aspects of the business while shadowing staff in the various sections of the broker/dealer: new business, trading, brokerage and licensing. As the summer went on, I worked more closely with the new business unit as it deployed new technologies that ESI was incorporating to keep them ahead in the field.

National Life Group has a very developed internship program. While working with ESI, I also learned and worked with all the other National Life Group interns, joining weekly seminars where we covered the ins and outs of the company. The highlights of my summer experience were the people I worked with and the project assigned to me at the beginning of the internship. During the first week, interns were split up into groups of five or six and given a project to work on for the entire summer. Projects were designed to benefit the company as a whole. We were charged to present our results at the end of the summer in a contest to determine which group produced the best outcome.

The summer was a great experience. It helped introduce me to the industry and provided some insight into what I could possibly do after college. With a dual major in accounting and business management, it has been a real struggle for me to decide what path I want to take after college. This internship helped me start making decisions. I would recommend the National Life Group internship program to any college student who is thinking about a possible career in finance, accounting or business management.

Design Diaspora: Architecture Graduate Students on Summer Internships

Fanning out from California to Ghana, students interned in a host of settings, from traditional architecture firms to fabrication, construction, design-build, museum and university venues.
By Timothy Parker, 
Assistant Professor | School of Architecture + Art

October 22, 2014

Studying architecture while nestled in the Green Mountains of Vermont has many benefits. Students may more readily focus on their work without the numerous distractions inevitably present in any urban environment. Cold winter months may further nourish the sense of common cause and solidarity that the studio setting seeks to manifest. And the palpable presence of nature in its seasons and textures may inculcate an awareness of how the real poetry of architecture remains rooted in the material richness of the earth.

But these sources of concentration, community and consciousness may also become instruments of isolation. After all, architecture is a complicated endeavor. Responsible conception and creation of the built environment involves comprehension of its global, interdependent and ever-changing nature. And an architectural education entirely limited to the academic studio culture is insufficient. This is why Norwich architecture students are encouraged to pursue study abroad opportunities, field trips are routine and a great portion of curricular activity is oriented toward providing the broader perspective that a fully formed architect needs. This is also one reason why incoming graduate students are required to spend a summer working in a firm within—or closely related to—the architecture profession.

The summer internship is more than mere work experience. For concurrent with their work in a firm, students take a six-credit course that ensures they are not only receiving practical experience but also reflecting upon it in critical, productive ways. And this all happens through NUoodle, in an online course largely designed by Michael Hoffman, associate professor and director of graduate architecture. The aim is, as Hoffman puts it, “to develop a bridge between their academic experience and professional practice.” The course brings students together in small groups for online discussion, guided by faculty prompts yet open to topics of interest as they may arise. The course requires substantial weekly written responses to readings that range across the historical, theoretical, economic, political and cultural aspects of architectural practice.

I had the privilege of teaching the course with 15 students this summer, and the educational benefits were evident. The weekly readings and writing assignments fostered a culture of research and critical reflection as complimentary to the daily routines of professional practice. Students approached all aspects of the work environment in their writing, including project delivery, financial management, legal and managerial organization, marketing and more, in light of assigned readings and their own research, in order to take fuller ownership of their own education. And they frequently addressed the relation between their academic studies and the work they were doing—or hope and plan to do in the future. Katherine Anderson saw familiar elements included in the workflow while interning at New World Design Builders in Clifton, New Jersey. “It [was] reassuring to see that academic-related activities have seeped into the work environment, or vice versa,” she said.

Beyond these valuable lessons, however, the students mirrored in microcosm the rich diversity of architecture-related professional practice. Students interned at different kinds of offices and were scattered broadly. Several remained in the northeast. But others worked in California, Texas, the District of Columbia, and as far away as West Africa—Accra, Ghana, to be precise. Many employers were more-or-less traditional architectural firms. But students also served internships at fabrication, construction, design-build, museum, university and drafting-service venues. Their size and complexity varied greatly, from sole proprietorships to multi-office, multi-industry corporations.
Students experienced certain common threads during their internships, including some surprise as how much responsibility they were given from day one. The sheer amount and variety of projects under active development concurrently, day after day, was also an eye-opener. The varying kinds of organization and the variety of management approaches in practice across employers, however, meant that each student was also presented with unique challenges and opportunities to make the most of the internship.

For Alyssa Shramek, who interned with Hudson Design Group in North Andover, Massachusetts, consultation and collaboration were highlights: “I think that working with the engineers at my firm was the most useful skill I learned. It was interesting to learn about what they look for in designs and how to explain design concepts to them and work together to achieve the design you are trying to create.”

Jayson Sterba, who interned with MulvannyG2 in Washington, DC, found a chief benefit of the course to be the writing assignments. “I really enjoyed the depth this class went into and the multitude of ideas and prompts we had to criticize and write about. It helped me hold a critical stance to this firm and the field and kept me on my toes always thinking about how the company is serving me at the same time I am serving them.”

Rachel Opare-Sem, who interned at Modula Group in Accra, Ghana, perhaps took the broadest view of all: “I think as a designer the internship was useful, because it made me aware that there are many factors, outside of merely designing on a daily basis, that contribute to successfully practicing architecture. Business management, economic climate, culture and even politics affect the profession, and I think that it is important for an architect to balance all these, and others, in order to be successful.”

And for my part, I am now able to work with all of these students again as they pursue their own research topics and, this semester, develop and complete the written portion of their year-long thesis projects. I am encouraged by their maturity in tackling complex problems, seemingly incommensurable discourses or otherwise advance their own critical thinking about their project, their field and their future profession. I am eager to see where they go from here.

The Business of Baseball: A Summer Intern’s Inside View

Junior business major Taylor Kacur recalls lessons she learned during a summer internship with the Syracuse Chiefs AAA minor league baseball team.
By Taylor Kacur ‘15, Accounting and Management | School of Business & Management

October 22, 2014

Throughout my years at Norwich, I have heard a lot of professors in the School of Business and Management stress the importance of internships and the unique knowledge students gain from such opportunities. During my junior year, I wanted to acquire my own real-world experience. I knew that a summer internship would be an ideal way for me to get a sense of the business world outside a typical college setting. Equipped with ideas on how to find and land internships from the Norwich Career Center, I applied to various internship programs, accepting an offer from the Syracuse Chiefs minor league baseball team in Syracuse, N.Y., a AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals near my hometown. I knew little to nothing about baseball and had never considered working in the sports industry before. But luckily Tim McCarver-like knowledge of the game was not a job requirement. So I took on the challenge, recalling the words of Babe Ruth: “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

From my perch as an intern, I saw every angle of a corporate sports business in action, working directly with fans at customer service and front desk operations and helping with on-field promotions, social media marketing and event planning. I found that my Norwich School of Business and Management courses, such as Introduction to Marketing, Operations Management and Organizations of Business, really helped prepare me for these tasks. I also glimpsed the finance side of the business from bookkeeping to raffling and was interested to discover how tough a business baseball can be in which to turn a profit. A lot depends on how staff treat customers. The combined efforts of interns like myself and employees helped increase the club’s average attendance this season. My most satisfying experiences as an intern were seeing a full stadium on game day and watching fans of all ages happily enjoy the game with friends and family. One of the key lessons I learned from this internship is to enjoy what you do and with whom you work. I couldn’t imagine not meeting all of the friendly staff and interns that I closely worked with this past summer.

By the end of my summer as a Syracuse Chiefs intern, I learned that private business accounting is a path I could pursue in the future and that I enjoy working in the sports industry. Without this work experience, I may never have considered it as a possible future career. My internship taught me about real-life business operations. It also gave me the experience and tools required to land a different internship this semester in an auditing department.

Norwich Students Join NASA Competitions, Internships

From space launches to telerobotic challenges, Norwich engineering students pushed their skills at a number of NASA summer programs.
David Crawford School of Engineering

October 22, 2014

Norwich engineering students participated in a variety of challenging NASA competitions, internships and space launches over the summer. Here’s a brief roundup of their endeavors:

RASC-AL Competition

A team of mechanical engineering students was selected as one of fourteen finalists in the 2014 NASA/NIA Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition. The contest provides a unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate engineering students to tackle challenges tied to NASA’s vision for human space exploration. Invited to participate in the RASC-AL forum in June at Coca Beach, Fla., the Norwich team comprised recent graduates Peter Gill, Savanah Medlar, Matthew Roberts and Ethan Hanks. Gill and Medlar along with faculty advisor Danner Friend represented the Norwich team in Florida at the RASC-AL forum. The group selected the tele-operated robot challenge, producing a creative design concept for a free-flying robotic inspection and repair vehicle that could repair torn solar panels. “The Norwich team stood out among all other teams with their detailed physical prototype that was built using 3D printing technology,” Friend said.

LARSS Program Internship

Mechanical engineering senior Spencer Nath worked over the summer as a NASA intern for the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars (LARSS) Program in Hampton, Va. He was assigned to the Advanced Sensing and Optical Measurement Branch, where he worked on a project to precisely measure the sound created by the undercarriage of an aircraft in landing configuration. The ultimate goal was to compare measurements before and after noise-reduction modifications were implemented. He worked with a team of engineers using optics and additive manufacturing technologies to create a custom array of super-powered LEDs capable of highlighting the aircraft (equipped with reflective materials) flying some 400 feet in the air.

RockOn Workshop

Sounding rocket launch during RockOn Workshop at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility
Electrical and computer engineering senior Nathan Tong attended the RockOn Workshop sponsored by the Colorado Space Grant Consortium and hosted at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. The workshop allows student teams to build rocket payloads from a kit that is later mounted and launched on a sounding rocket. The payload kit included an Arduino microcontroller acting as the central processor, a Geiger counter and an assortment of accelerometers and environmental sensors. The data collected during the launch allowed the students to study the physical effects of the launch, the rotation of the rocket, the radiation levels (which spiked when the rocket cleared the atmosphere) and the length of time the rocket was in space. “Although we were one of many teams with similar payloads on the rocket,” Tong said, “it was a great experience and a good program for Norwich students to consider in the future.”

Both Nath and Tong received support from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium and presented the results of their experiences at a consortium awards ceremony and reception held on October 8 at the University of Vermont.

State space grant consortiums like Vermont and Colorado’s are part of a national space grant program funded by NASA linking 850 colleges and universities. The program promotes STEM education and provides avenues for students to participate in NASA-related aeronautical and space program research.