Calvin Profs Work In Real World

    GRAND RAPIDS — It’s common to criticize the academic world as being a kind of monastery removed from the real world. 

    Perhaps … but Earl Fife and Keith Vander Linden have been catching up on the real world — and plan to help their students at Calvin College do the same.

    Fife is working with CPR on a new computer intrusion detection system.

    CPR is a West Michigan technology services provider that produces many software products that include information system security.

    Fife is a computer science professor on leave from Calvin.

    The detection system upon which he’s working is a device — a stand-alone computer — that combines both hardware and software in a package designed to allow companies to keep their networks secure.

    Basically, it monitors traffic on a company network and sends an alert to the system administrator when something anomalous appears.

    And based upon what he’s learned in his hands-on experience at CPR, Fife says he’s going to offer a course in the spring on computer security.

    Vander Linden says he also has fresh academic plans for his students.

    He’s been working with Siemens Dematic focusing on user interfaces for materials handling.

    Both men say the experience has been challenging and yet so energizing that they’ll take the lessons they’ve learned in the private industrial sector back to the classroom.

    Both professors are participating in the Calvin externship program that, they believe, is a must in their particular discipline. They explain that the applications of computer science not only changes continually, but also is ever more intimately mixed with so much of what’s happening in industry on a global scale.

    What VanderLinden says he appreciates is that the program does not cost Siemens a cent.

    His salary continues to be paid while he’s on the externship.  And an externship endowment fund pays for the cost of his replacement teacher at Calvin.

    “It is an amazing program,” he says. “Every Calvin faculty member should look into it.”

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