When the next Cisco Systems wireless product hits the market, Josh Wilcox, ’10, master’s in information and communication sciences ’12, can be one of the few college students to say the device or system has his stamp of approval.
As a result of a partnership between Ball State and Cisco, Wilcox is interning for the American-based multinational corporation that designs and sells consumer electronics, networking, voice and communications technology, and services.
“The internship has helped me tremendously because I have been exposed to a real-world company, learning a great deal about wireless networking technology,” Wilcox says. “I’ve learned how wireless communication works, the developmental process of Cisco hardware and software, and deploying and monitoring a wireless network in a large network environment.”
While working in various Information Technology Services labs on campus, Wilcox assists Cisco’s Wireless Networking Business Unit (WNBU) in Richardson, Texas, with internal testing and prerelease software and hardware testing.
Ball State has been a test site for various Cisco products for most of the last decade. In 2006, Ball State became the first university in the country to examine applications for the company’s WiMAX system.
Looking for Bugs
A native of Wabash, Indiana, Wilcox looks for potential bugs in the system and then suggests how the software and hardware should be to be updated and retested. He often finds himself on the phone with Cisco test engineers, managers, and other key personnel in the company’s Richardson, Texas, facilities, or the firm’s headquarters in San Jose, California.
Bradley McCoy, UCS networks integration manager, says the work done by Wilcox and other interns allows Cisco to validate equipment and software before releasing them to customers.
Ball State’s production wireless network also takes part in large-scale testing of the new software and features. This partnership gives Cisco a testing base of nearly 1,300 wireless access points and 6,000 active clients, allowing the company to research and gain a huge amount of data over possible areas for improvement.
“Interns like Josh play a major role in producing reports about the performance of the network on campus,” McCoy says. “These reports are then made into presentations which are seen by management of Cisco’s WNBU. This in turn gives credibility and value to the partnership between Ball State and Cisco, allowing it to continue for future internships for students.”
The partnership is an example of Ball State’s Emerging Media Initiative, which builds on the university’s historic strengths and invests institutional and new private resources to make emerging media a pillar industry of the Hoosier economy.
Wilcox not only spends long hours in the testing labs, but the internship allows him hands-on experience around campus working to update the Cisco’s wireless product line throughout campus.
“I have had the opportunity to install and configure Cisco access points, switches, and hardware—and I joke I’ve become a troubleshooter when it comes to our wireless systems on campus,” he says. “Most companies and customers have decided to take the wireless route because of the great amount of convenience it brings.
“This will help me greatly in the future when I start my professional career, as Cisco products are seen as one of the best in wireless networking hardware and are implemented in most network infrastructures. This opportunity I believe will give me an edge over other candidates in my field.”