Dakota State University students walking around campus

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Sioux Falls CTE students get hands-on with technology

December 15, 2016

Red and green Christmas M&M’s are a perfect treat this time of year.

They are also the perfect teaching tool for lessons in technology.

Dakota State University College of Computing instructor Rob Honomichl used the chocolate candies to illustrate a decryption concept to high school students visiting from the Sioux Falls CTE Academy.

The 33 students paired off, and each took turns secretly putting a number of candies in the same Styrofoam cup. Knowing the total number of candies in the cup, and their own contribution, they were able to figure out their partner’s portion of the “key,” a simple example of the key exchange concept called the Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange.

Honomichl talked about other types of encryptions, such as the simple shift cipher called the Caesar Cypher. The students used this and other methods to decode messages.

“We live in a world of encryption because we want our world to be safe,” he told the students, but there is also a “gigantic human factor.” Because of this, companies hire as many psychologists as computer scientists, to learn “why people want to click on links.”

DSU staff and students held several sessions on the Madison campus, dealing with this variety of technology issues. Students learned about safe computer use on public networks with DSU Assistant Professor Dr. Kyle Cronin. Several DSU students showed the CTE students examples of projects they were working on.

CTE instructor Brad Brockmueller used to be one of those DSU students. After graduating, he kept in touch with Honomichl, he said, and has been bringing his students up for a day-long field trips for a few years now.

“They see a lot of stuff we do in my classes, just at another level,” he said.

Some students were familiar with the campus. Sophomore Alexis Kulm had already been to campus for one of its summer GenCyber camps.

It was the first visit for sophomore Julius Moy. He thought the sessions were “amazing,” and he was definitely learning things. It was particularly fun for him to see the resources the school has and how the instructors “encourage the creativity inside you.”

“I love it,” he said, “It almost feels like home.”

Some of the creative DSU student projects included an image processing example, demonstrated by Tyler Rau, a computer science major from Aberdeen. This was his first time helping with the CTE class day, and he said the students were asking a lot of questions.

DSU graduate student Eric Holm was showing hardware options, including a GPU cluster. It gives the kids a “wow” factor, he said, that “provides a spark and gets them interested.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Eric Holm, a Dakota State University graduate student from Rapid City, listens to a question from a Sioux Falls CTE student at a recent field trip the high school students took to the Madison university. The students attended several sessions on technology and security.


PHOTO CAPTION: Tyler Rau (left), Dakota State University computer science student from Aberdeen, shows a Sioux Falls CTE student an image process example during a recent field trip the high school students took to the Madison university. The students attended several sessions on technology and security.