Patricia Tamburelliâ€™s favorite leisure activity is reading fictional crime novels, which isnâ€™t far removed from what she teaches students in her information security classes. Like a typical character from those books, she never set out to become an expert in her field. It just happened.
â€śI never planned to be a teacher,â€ť says Tamburelli, assistant professor of information technologies. â€śWhen I was ready to graduate from college, a middle school teacher in my hometown didnâ€™t show up. The principal called my mother and asked if I could fill in. On the first day there, I realized that this was what I should be doing all my life.â€ť
She taught in middle school, then at a business college and eventually became an adjunct instructor at County College of Morris (CCM), working her way up to a full-time position.
How she became involved in defending against cybercrime was also serendipitous. After launching a web design certificate at CCM, she began searching for the next important development in the field.
â€śMy husband was a retired policeman, so the field of information security drew my attention,â€ť she says. In 1999, she attended the Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education (CISSE) sponsored by the Department of Defense in Washington. â€śI started building information security courses and a program matching the federal 4011 training standards.â€ť Today, she is on the board of directors for CISSE and is involved in developing CCM's reputation as a regional center for information security training.
SHARPENING SKILLS THROUGH COMPETITIONS
Tamburelli sharpens her skills by participating in national cyber competitions. â€śYouâ€™re given a scenario and you have to attack and defend a network. You get points for attacking or defending successfully.â€ť
She also works on two academic task forces â€“ Cyberwatch and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. â€śWeâ€™re developing a national curriculum in information security education so everyone is teaching the same thing.â€ť
Like a character out of one of her favorite crime novels, Tamburelli spends a great deal of her time working with top government and private industry experts to protect against crime â€“ in her case cybersecurity â€“ proving that truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.