Computer networking students take fourth straight title

By University Communications
April 27, 2017
UW-Stout computer networking students display their awards from the AITP national competition. From left are Brice Blankenship, Christopher Spieth, Connor Glade, Hunter Keller and Stephen Felton. Missing is Arthur Cravets.

Photo: UW-Stout computer networking students display their awards
from the AITP national competition. From left are Brice Blankenship,
Christopher Spieth, Connor Glade, Hunter Keller and Stephen Felton.
Missing is Arthur Cravets.


The winning streak continues for University of Wisconsin-Stout’s computer networking students. For the fourth straight year and fifth in the last six, a UW-Stout team has won a national title in network design.

UW-Stout’s Arthur Cravets, of Madison, and Connor Glade, of Hudson, took first place at the AITP National Collegiate Conference and Career Fair competition held April 6-9 in St. Louis. AITP is the Association of Information Technology Professionals.

UW-Stout also took third place, with the team of Brice Blankenship, of Markesan, and Chris Spieth, of Howards Grove. A total of 34 teams entered the network design competition.

UW-Stout teams previously won the network design challenge from 2014 through 2016, along with firsts in 2012 and 2007 and seconds in 2012, 2013 and 2015.

Overall, the 22nd annual AITP event included 13 competition categories, drawing 404 students from 47 colleges.

UW-Stout students fared well in another category. In PC troubleshooting, Hunter Keller of Chilton was third. Taking honorable mentions were Stephen Felton of Richland Center and Blankenship. The event drew 123 contestants, who first took a 100-question exam. The top 10 scores advanced to the final round.

Holly YuanThe UW-Stout competitors are majoring in computer networking and information technology, previously known as information technology management. Associate Professor Holly Yuan, the Bachelor of Science CNIT program director, is the students’ adviser.

Winning combination

The network design competition was sponsored by Progressive Insurance, which challenged students to design a solution to a challenge the company is facing, creating a hybrid WAN — wide area network. Students had four hours to design their solution and prepare a proposal for Progressive.

The teams of Cravets-Glade and Blankenship-Spieth used new technology from Cisco called Intelligent Wan, or IWAN, Blankenship said.

“This allows the WAN links connected to their private corporate data centers and public cloud providers to operate more efficiently,” Blankenship said.

The teams’ 10- to 12-page proposals included how the technology works, how to implement it, diagrams, hardware replacements, security considerations, budgeting and a timeline.

“The judges commented that primarily the top four teams understood how the technology worked and how to apply it,” Blankenship said.

The proposal by Cravets and Glade won in part “because we were able to explain everything clearly and demonstrate knowledge of the technology we were implementing,” Glade said.

“The network topologies that Arthur made for this proposal helped a lot with that, and the writing was able to support all of the points that Progressive wanted us to touch upon. Plus, the formatting and the actual look of the proposal are important too, and I feel like ours was good and distinct,” Glade added.

Glade prepped for the competition by researching new and emerging technology “to prepare myself for any possible prompt.”

UW-Stout students take a network design class as part of their major. They do case studies for two to three weeks with teams of five or six people. A competition on campus, with a four-hour timeline like the AITP event, was held to determine which students would get to compete nationally.

“It’s great preparation for real-world IT consulting,” Blankenship said.

The CNIT program trains students in designing and implementing computer networks, including emerging technology such as virtualization, ethical hacking, collaboration and wireless networking.

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Photos

Bottom Photo: Holly Yuan