July 4, 2020

Alumna, COO Scales Cybersecurity Career

Megan Carter Shepherd ’94 double majored in math and computer science while also breaking records for the Mary Washington swim team. She’s now the COO of SimVentions, an engineering services company in Stafford.

Megan Carter Shepherd ’94 double majored in math and computer science while also breaking records for the Mary Washington swim team. She’s now the COO of SimVentions, an engineering services company in Stafford.

Throughout her four-year college career, Megan Carter Shepherd ’94 broke records with the Mary Washington swim team, winning championships and earning a top spot in the Capital Athletic Conference.

“Cybersecurity wasn’t even something that was discussed when I first graduated,” Shepherd said of her field, which employs only about 20 percent women, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. “Now it’s at the forefront of everything.”

But Goolrick Pool wasn’t the only place she made a splash. Double majoring in math and computer science, Shepherd dove into numbers, equations and formulas – expertise she relies on in her new role as chief operating officer of SimVentions. The Stafford-based engineering services company counts the Navy, Marine Corps and NSWC Dahlgren as customers. Protecting clients’ data, assets and information is more important than ever, she said, since many organizations have shifted to telework due to COVID-19.

She encourages those beginning their careers to secure a cybersecurity certification, like the one UMW introduced last fall. She also recommends finding a mentor and establishing relationships with professors like the ones she found at Mary Washington. Read more.

UMW CPSC High School Programming Contest

UMW CPSC High School Programming Contest

The HCC Digital Auditorium was buzzing with the next generation of computer scientists on Saturday, February 22, 2020. Eleven teams of 3 or 4 students from high schools in Culpeper, Spotsylvania, and Stafford used their programming skills to attempt to solve 13 problems in 3.5 hours of programming. The winning team, from Riverbend, solved 9 problems, and they won the 14” golden cup, championship trophy. All of the teams solved at least 3 problems. Prizes were awarded to students on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams. The UMW CPSC Department hosted the area High School Programming Contest. UMW CPSC faculty and students worked on the contest for the past year – planning, recruiting sponsors (SimVentions, BCI, and Lockheed Martin), visiting area high schools, describing programming contests, establishing an ongoing practice contest, and collecting contest entries. The all day contest had 67 attendees – high school students, high school teachers, CPSC faculty, and CPSC students. Everyone received a commemorative t-shirt. Snacks, lunch, and beverages were provided throughout the event. Everyone was tired at the end of the day, but there was a great sense of accomplishment for the high school student programmers, the high school teachers, and the UMW hosts.

UMW Pathway Provides Grad-Level Engineering Opportunities

Thanks to a new pathway program with George Mason University, UMW students will now have the opportunity to enroll in pre-master’s courses in Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering. Photo by Ron Aira/George Mason University.

Thanks to a new pathway program with George Mason University, UMW students will now have the opportunity to enroll in pre-master’s courses in Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering. Photo by Ron Aira/George Mason University.

Engineers share a lot in common with superheros.

The latter leap tall buildings in a single bound, fight evil-doers and travel faster than a speeding bullet. The former design sustainable and safe infrastructure, combat cyber-crime and create signals that move at lightning speed.

UMW students aren’t caped crusaders, but they need to be prepared to tackle and solve complex problems plaguing our society. Starting in fall 2020, a new agreement with George Mason University will help them do that. Mary Washington undergraduates will have the opportunity to take graduate-level courses in Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering (VSE) during their senior year. Students can earn up to nine credits that will be applied to their bachelor’s degree at UMW and potentially later be used toward a master’s degree in engineering at Mason. Read more.