The community of security professionals in government, commercial, and academic and research organizations is a powerful force for good. They often work together in ad hoc teams to fight against cyber crime and to help organizations block attacks or recover from attacks. When they learn about a major new vulnerability and wonder how best to respond, or when their organization is attacked and they are seeking tools that can help them defend their systems, security practitioners look to their network of practitioners for ideas, proven techniques and help in avoiding major mistakes. The SANS Technology Institute education provides opportunities for you to build your own network of security professionals from the other students and the faculty. These are the people you can call on, and who can call on you, when in need. This is such an important component of your education that we have engineered team activities into the programs to enrich your educational experience, to begin contributing to the security community, and to expand your network of peers. The projects, which involve research, writing and speaking, are graded. The sum of your scores on these exercises will be your final Community Project grade; or, if they are graded on a pass/fail basis, you must pass each exercise to receive a passing Community Project grade.
Residential Institutes and Community Project Requirements - General
When the term Residential Institute (RI) is used by STI, it means that the STI Master's Student is performing a Community Project Requirement at a SANS Institute conference. These events are the large live six-day conferences that the SANS Institute offers on a periodic basis in various U.S. cities and some international sites.
Planning Spreadsheet for Residential Institutes
In advance of an RI that a student wishes to attend, he/she must complete the excel spreadsheet which can be downloaded here: planning spreadsheet for Residential Institutes. The student will attach it to an e-mail and send it to email@example.com.
The student should review the applicable Grading Rubrics/Checklists before starting the CPR.
Learning Objectives & Methods of Assessment
Students must pay for their own hotel room and hotel tax as well as their other expenses for travel and food.
The following exception applies only to students admitted prior to October 21, 2011 if the student was required to do a teaching assistant Community Project Requirement.
When a student acts as a teaching assistant to satisfy the teaching assistant Community Project Requirement, the Institute pays for the hotel room and hotel tax; but the student does not receive a teaching assistant fee, and the Institute does not pay for any other expenses.
What Community Project Requirements must be performed at a Residential Institute?
- Group Discussion & Written Project--arrive two days before the RI, and it is presented the evening before the RI starts. Due to a timing conflict, it is unlikely that WorkStudy and the Group Discussion & Written Project can be performed at the same RI.
- First Presentation
- Second Presentation
- [Teaching Assistant does NOT apply to students admitted on or after 10/20/11. For MSISM students admitted before 10/21/11, TA duty does apply. For MSISE students admitted before 9/15/08, TA duty does apply. However these students can do the GSE in place of TA if they choose to do so.]
- GIAC GSE capstone if student is in the MSISE (Engineering) Program and student was accepted into the E program ON or AFTER September 15, 2008.
- MSISM capstone if student is in the MSISM (Management) Program and student was accepted into the M program ON or AFTER May 1, 2012.
What Community Project Requirements are performed away from a RI?
- Joint Written Project
- Awareness Talk
Do the Community Project Requirements have to be performed in a particular order?
Preliminary Note: For students admitted after October 18, 2010, MGT 305 and its Assessment must be passed before student does a Presentation or the Group Discussion & Written Project. It is strongly preferred that MGT 305 be taken at a live training event and the Assessment can be done at that one-day class. But if live training is not convenient for student, M305 can be taken online, and the Assessment can be graded virtually rather than in person.
As a general rule, the Community Project Requirements are performed in the following order: Group Discussion and Written Project, First Presentation, Joint Written Project, Second Presentation, Teaching Assistant (if applicable - see section above); GIAC GSE for MSISE students accepted on or after September 15, 2008 , MSISM Capstone for MSISM students accepted on or after May 1, 2012, Awareness Talk. [Note: When a student is ready to pursue the GSE capstone or MSISM capstone, they can do so early in the program if they desire.]
Why does the student have to attend some RIs?
The RIs provides live face-to-face time among students, faculty, and instructors. It provides students with opportunities to build their own network of security professionals with other students, faculty, and instructors; and helps to build their leadership skills.
Preliminary Note: For students admitted after October 18, 2010, MGT 305 and its Assessment must be passed before student does a Presentation. It is strongly preferred that MGT 305 be taken at a live training event and the Assessment can be done at that one-day class. But if live training is not convenient for student, M305 can be taken via OnDemand or vLive, and the Assessment can be graded virtually rather than in person.
At two of the RIs, students must make an oral and written presentation at TWO of the RIs. Generally, the presentation occurs at the second and third RIs, but it is possible for the student to do the first presentation at the first RI if they coordinate it with SANS Technology Institute's senior staff. The presentation topic is based on the student's previously earned Gold GIAC certifications research (unless the student receives permission from the college to use a topic not related to Gold). Students may request resource material about "How to Give Effective Presentations" by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following are some rules and tips for the Presentations:
- Grading rubrics are at http://www.sans.edu/students/grading/rubrics.
- Graduate level work is expected and required.
- The audience primarily consists of persons with a strong technical focus so your Presentation needs to be geared to that interest. On occasion and with special permission, a presentation with a strong management focus may be allowed if you tie it in with security.
- The presentation should go beyond the course upon which it is based; otherwise persons in the audience who just took that course will be bored and not learn anything.
- Experts in the room should be able to learn something new, and even persons new to the subject should be able to understand at least part of the presentation. (Experts will get a golden nugget or two, and new persons will learn a lot). Remember that each person in the audience is investing 40 minutes of their valuable time.
- The audience is thinking, "What is in this presentation for me?" Think of it like giving a "gift' to the audience.
- It is not expected to be a presentation of the whole gold paper upon which it is based. When reviewing your Gold paper, look for the "golden nugget(s)" in the paper, and build your presentation around the golden nugget(s).
- Prior to the Presentation, the student should listen to (or, at least, read the PDFs) the "Effective Presentations" webcasts that the college makes available to students upon request to email@example.com. Students who have done so have found them to be interesting and valuable.
- Time management is important. Be ready to "go" when it is time to give your Presentation. If you delay, the audience may lose interest and some may leave. You need to end on time too.
- Eye contact is important.
- Students should try not to read slides verbatim. Transition into each slide (for example, you can use the title of the slide safely as a transition 30% of the time).
- Questions. Repeat the question (or rephrase it to a better question) so that everyone in the room can hear what the question is.
- Laser Pointer. Practice with your laser pointer to make sure you are comfortable with it before you give the presentation (unless you are comfortable using the method of pointing at the slide using your shadow as a pointer).
It is required that students read the information about presentations in the Planning Spreadsheet for Residential Institutes described above.
Group Discussion and Written Project
Preliminary Note: For students admitted after October 18, 2010, MGT 305 and its Assessment must be passed before student does the Group Discussion & Written Project. It is strongly preferred that MGT 305 be taken at a live training event and the Assessment can be done at that one-day class. But if live training is not convenient for student, M305 can be taken via OnDemand or vLive, and the Assessment can be graded virtually rather than in person.
The student will arrive two days BEFORE the scheduled RI to participate in a Group Discussion and Written Project (GDWP). A problem will be presented to the student's team the evening before the project is to be presented; and, as a team, the team prepares to present a recommended solution to senior staff about 24 hours later. As a leader, you will be expected to deal with situations with short turnaround times, so this project allows you to demonstrate those skills and to improve them. The actual presentation is given by one member of the team which the team selects. The presentation will be 15 minutes, 7 slides, 5 to 6 bullets per slide, maximum 10 typed pages. The presentation usually occurs in the evening in front of a member of SANS Technology Institute's senior staff. Generally, there are no other people in the audience, or only a few. The grade will be a team grade / each student in that team will receive the same grade. The grade will be on a pass/fail basis, but that may change in the future. SANS Technology Institute may, but is not required to, post passing projects onto its website. Due to a timing conflict, students generally cannot schedule a GDWP at the same conference where they are performing the WorkStudy Community Project Requirement. For more information about the GDWP, see the Planning Spreadsheet for Residential Institutes described above.
How is a student assigned a partner? Please see the "Partner - How to Obtain a Partner" section below.
See the Presentation discussion in the section above.
Joint Written Project
A student must engage in ONE Joint Written Project (JWP) during the term of the Master's Program. It is highly recommended, that the student take MGT 525 IT Project Management, Effective Communication, and PMP® Exam Prep before the student starts the Joint Written Project. The student must work with at least one other student as his or her partner(s) in the JWP. JWPs are assigned by the faculty of SANS Technology Institute via email to the student partners. Note that the project plan is due within 5 days after the assignment is given and the rest of the project is due within 30 days after the project plan is approved.
The JWP is NOT done at a RI.The JWP is written, and does not involve an oral presentation. The students will collaborate with their partner(s) by e-mail, phone, etc. to coordinate their efforts. In life, partners often must coordinate a project by e-mail, phone, etc. rather than face-to-face, so this project gives students experience working virtually. The grade will be a team grade / each student in that team will receive the same grade. The grade will be on a pass/fail basis, but that may change in the future. SANS Technology Institute may, but is not required to, post passing projects onto its website.
How is a student assigned a partner? Please see the "Partner - How to Obtain a Partner" section below.
If a person was admitted to STI after 10/20/11, there is no need to read this TA section because it would NOT apply to that person.
The following applies to (A) students admitted in the MSISM program before 10/21/11, and (B) MSISE students admitted into the master's program BEFORE September 15, 2008 unless those MSISE students opt to take the GSE in place of TA:
The student will assist an instructor as a teaching assistant (formerly a teaching assistant was called a proctor) in a hands-on course. Leaders have to be good at troubleshooting, whether the problem is technical, process or personal. A teaching assistant's job is to help other students, and that usually involves a lot of troubleshooting. The student will benefit from being exposed to an excellent hands-on instructor, and the student will be able to exercise important skills while assisting others in the hands-on instruction.
The student must coordinate with the SANS teaching assistant coordinator well in advance of the scheduled RI. The teaching assistant coordinator may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The student should tell the teaching assistant coordinator that the student is in SANS Technology Institute's Master's Degree Program, and that the student is requesting to be a teaching assistant to satisfy the student's Community Project Requirement in the Master's Program. The student should let email@example.com know when the student has been chosen to be a facilitator in performance of the student's Community Project Requirement.
Teaching assistants are graded on a pass/fail basis. The instructor in the room will observe your grace under fire as you face various challenges, and then evaluate your performance. As teaching assistants, students likely will have access to the faculty speaker room to enhance their relationships with the faculty.
The student may not be able to take courses at this RI since he or she may be a teaching assistant about 36 hours over the span of the conference. The student will not be paid a fee for this teaching assistant requirement. When a student acts as a teaching assistant to satisfy the teaching assistant Community Project Requirement, the Institute pays for the hotel room and hotel tax; but the student does not receive a teaching assistant fee, and the Institute does not pay for any other expenses.
GIAC GSE CAPSTONE in MSISE Program:
The following applies to students in the MSISE program who were admitted into the Master's Program ON OR AFTER September 15, 2008:
The student must pass the GIAC GSE. For details about the GSE, see the GIAC GSE page.
CAPSTONE in MSISM Program:
The following applies to students in the MSISM program who were admitted into the Master's Program ON OR AFTER May 1, 2012:
The student must pass the MSISM Capstone. This capstone experience currently is in development but it must be completed by MSISM students admitted on or after May 1, 2012.
See the Presentation discussion in the section above.
After Completion of the above Presentations/Projects
Security Awareness Talk in Student's Community - Plan
The Plan for the Security Awareness Talk. Within 30 days after the student finishes the presentations and projects described above, the student must present a plan to SANS Technology Institute describing how the student intends to satisfy the Awareness Talk. See the Grading Rubric/Checklist posted on the STI website or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain it. (This paragraph about "the Plan" applies to students admitted June 1, 2006 and after).
Teaching Security Awareness in the Community (Applies to all students)
The student will teach a computer security awareness course, at no cost or low cost, to members of the public in the student's own community. The student will devise his or her own course content. The student, and possibly SANS Technology Institute, will invite members of the public to attend. At least one representative from the student's own organization (place of employment) must be present. Evidence of the talk must be provided to SANS Technology Institute as provided in the Grading Rubric/Checklist posted on the STI website or contact email@example.com to obtain it.
Partner - How to Obtain a Partner for the Group Discussion & Written Project and the Joint Written Project
This section applies to students admitted before December 1, 2007:
Students may obtain their own partners by communicating with other master's students to see if someone is interested, or they may elect to have a partner assigned to them by the institution as described below.
This section applies to students admitted December 1, 2007 and after:
Partners will be assigned by the institution. The student will advise firstname.lastname@example.org that they wish to perform the (1) Group Discussion and Written Project at a certain Residential Institute, or (2) Joint Written Project starting at a certain time. If other students also request to perform that project, then the institution will pair them in groups (generally of two or three). There may be occasions where other students do not wish to perform that project at that time or place, so the student will need to schedule it later.
In keeping with the consistent leadership policy of the college, it is expected that students will follow through in their plans to work with a partner. Each of them relies on the other in making plans. Please note that the institution is not liable for costs and inconvenience incurred by a student resulting from a partner's failure to perform. In the unlikely event that students schedule a Group Discussion and Written Project, and one arrives but the other does not, then the following applies:
- The student who is present may reschedule it for a later date (recommended); or
- The student who is present may proceed on his/her own (not recommended but acceptable).
STI will determine if the student who does not arrive will receive receives an incomplete or a failing score.