Michael Nelson ’18, ’19MS

"Once I visited Iona, I loved the campus and could immediately see myself walking around there."

Alumni Success

Major/Degree: Computer Science with a concentration in Cyber Security 5-year BS/MS program
Hometown: Mahwah, N.J.
High School: Mahwah High School

Why did you choose Iona? Why did you choose the 5-year program? 
I was very interested in Iona because of the 5-year program, and once I visited, I loved the campus and could immediately see myself walking around there. I liked the 5-year program specifically because I knew how hard it might be to go back to school after completing my BS, but I knew a master’s degree would open up many opportunities. This program allowed me to earn both degrees. 

Why did you choose your major?
I loved computers and all the professors at the Accepted Students day in the Computer Science department were very welcoming.

Did you belong to clubs/teams? Or did you participate in other activities? Tell us a little about that experience. 
I was in the computer science club, and I was Killian -- the Iona mascot -- for my entire undergrad experience, traveling to the March Madness games with the team for three years. I had been my high school mascot, so I only had to go through an informal try-out at Iona. My favorite memories are of traveling with the team, band, cheerleaders and dance team. Whether it was on a bus or a plane, we always bonded, playing music to pump us up before a game.

The 2016 Iona women's basketball team pose with their MAAC trophy at the arena.

Did you participate in any internships or did you have any research opportunities? Tell us about that. What did you learn and how did it help you? 
I am most proud of all the research I did outside of the classroom, which allowed me to publish two papers before I even graduated.

During my freshman year, I was able to obtain an internship at IBM with the help of the Computer Science Department faculty. I also had the opportunity to participate in a research project in quantum computations with one of my professors. After a year or so of research with him and another student, we had a paper titled "Automatic Generation of Optimal Quantum Key Distribution Protocols” accepted in the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO). I ended up doing my honors thesis on this topic. Later on, I worked with Dr. Centonze for my master’s thesis. We published “GPS Spoofing of iOS and Android” in the International Conference on Information Management and Processing (ICIMP).

When I graduated, I was immediately able to apply skills from my classes in real world scenarios and ended up working with several of my classmates.

Did any class, professor, mentor or friend make an impact on you while at Iona? How?
I had many professors that made a huge impact on me. Some helped me develop a professional career. Others helped me explore my academic interests that we didn't cover in the classroom. Every professor I had was very passionate about what they taught and encouraged me to ask questions and learn.

Tell us about your current position. How did Iona help in preparing you for your job? 
My current position is technical support at Zekelman Industries. Iona helped me learn about a wide variety of hardware, software, and more. I've had a few positions consulting for different companies since my graduation, so I was happy that Iona gave me the experience to be able to move around and try different things.

Any advice to prospective students?
My advice to any prospective students is that Iona is a great choice for many reasons. While I was there, I had great resources for anything I needed: intelligent faculty who helped me on an individual basis; and I made some of the best friends I have. I excelled at more than just academics in college and I feel I owe a large part of that to my decision to go to Iona.