How our young colleagues are being educated....

Phil Bedard bedard.phil at
Tue Dec 23 21:30:25 UTC 2014

Yes when I took "networks" as part of my CS degree 12 years ago most of it was socket programming and had very little to do with infrastructure management.  I don't think that has changed much talking to recent graduates.


-----Original Message-----
From: "Kinkaid, Kyle" <kkinkaid at>
Sent: ‎12/‎23/‎2014 10:40 AM
To: "Javier J" <javier at>
Cc: "nanog at" <nanog at>
Subject: Re: How our young colleagues are being educated....

In addition to my "9 to 5" job of network engineer, I teach evening courses
at a US community college (for you non-USers, it's a place for the first
2-years of post-secondary education, typically before proceeding to a full
4-year university).  The community college I work at participates in the
Cisco Academy program which trains students to get specific Cisco
certifications like CCNA, CCNP, CCNA Security.

I feel like the Cisco Academy program does a pretty good job at training
the students and and addresses many of the issues you found with education
in US.  Without knowing for sure, your description sounds like that of a
"traditional" 4-year university curriculum.  The Cisco Academy program
focuses on being up-to-date (revisions happen every 4 years or so) and
emphasizes working with (preferably physical) routers and switches from day
one.  I've found 4-year universities, if they have networking courses at
all, cover too much theoretical material, emphasize legacy technologies,
and are updated only when they must.

Further, when in front of students, I always try and relate the material to
either what they have experienced in their professional lives (if they are
already working) or to what I see in my job regular.  I try and keep the
students focused on what's practical and only discuss theory and abstract
ideas when necessary.  I might not be able to do that if I was a professor
at a 4-year university, having worked hard on a Ph.D. then on getting
tenure.  I think it's important to seek to be educated at schools and seek
to hire from schools where the instructors have copious practical
experience and, preferably, experience which is concurrent with their
teaching experience.  That will hopefully get you a corps of workers who
are better prepared for a job from day one.

Just my 2 cents.

P.S. This is not to denigrate the value of a Ph.D. or academia.  My mentor
in my network engineering career has a Ph.D. in Mathematics and having that
high-level education was a boon to his being able to understand difficult
networking concepts.

On Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 1:13 AM, Javier J <javier at>

> Dear NANOG Members,
> It has come to my attention, that higher learning institutions in North
> America are doing our young future colleagues a disservice.
> I recently ran into a student of Southern New Hampshire University enrolled
> in the Networking/Telecom Management course and was shocked by what I
> learned.
> Not only are they skimming over new technologies such as BGP, MPLS and the
> fundamentals of TCP/IP that run the internet and the networks of the world,
> they were focusing on ATM , Frame Relay and other technologies that are on
> their way out the door and will probably be extinct by the time this
> student graduates. They are teaching classful routing and skimming over
> CIDR. Is this indicative of the state of our education system as a whole?
> How is it this student doesn't know about OSPF and has never heard of RIP?
> If your network hardware is so old you need a crossover cable, it's time to
> upgrade. In this case, it’s time to upgrade our education system.
> I didn't write this email on the sole experience of my conversation with
> one student, I wrote this email because I have noticed a pattern emerging
> over the years with other university students at other schools across the
> country. It’s just the countless times I have crossed paths with a young IT
> professional and was literally in shock listening to the things they were
> being taught. Teaching old technologies instead of teaching what is
> currently being used benefits no one. Teaching classful and skipping CIDR
> is another thing that really gets my blood boiling.
> Are colleges teaching what an RFC is? Are colleges teaching what IPv6 is?
> What about unicast and multicast? I confirmed with one student half way
> through their studies that they were not properly taught how DNS works, and
> had no clue what the term “root servers” meant.
> Am I crazy? Am I ranting? Doesn't this need to be addressed? …..and if not
> by us, then by whom? How can we fix this?

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