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Anything But Typical

WITC student places fourth in national competition

By Elizabeth Whitchurch | Photo submitted

WITC student Timothy Grabian placed fourth in the Cisco NetRiders Competition.

“I’m a typical geek,” he says. But Timothy Grabrian is anything but typical. A home-schooled high school grad from Hammond, Wis., is set to graduate from WITC in May with an associate degree in information technology-network specialist – and he’s No. 4 in the nation in the Cisco NetRiders Competition.

The competition is an annual contest hosted by Cisco, the predominant name in computer networking. Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. (Cisco is to the computer world what the alphabet is to the literary world.)

The U.S. and Canada NetRiders Theater Finale competition involved more than 44 teams of Networking Academy students competing in a variety of activities, including a timed theoretical exam, a Cisco Packet Tracer network simulation activity and a Cisco Packet Tracer exam.

Jeff Heathman, WITC IT-network specialist instructor encouraged his students to take part in the three-part competition. The grand prize: an all-expense paid trip to San Jose, Calif., in January to tour Cisco headquarters, Stanford University and various sites of interest in Silicon Valley. And only the top four in the nation win, along with winners from other countries.

“I always felt confident going into each round, having studied a lot for the tests. While taking the tests, there were many questions I just knew,” Grabrian explains.

Grabrian’s scores in the first two rounds placed him Number One in the state. He then competed nationally (which also included several Canadian provinces) in the final round.

Time for the instant results: “As they were counting down from 10, I remember being concerned around 7 or 6 when I had not seen my name,” Grabrian says. “Either I had done poorly or had done really well. I was stunned when I saw I had taken fourth place. I remember having to read the message on the screen multiple times before it began to sink in. Jeff gave me a high-five and said ‘Dude, you’re going to California!”

“My first reaction to Cisco’s headquarters was amazement,” Grabrian says. “It’s not so much one building but many, something like 48 buildings, spread across a large campus. Everything Cisco does is done on a large scale. But spending time getting to know people from other countries was really the best part!”

Back on campus at WITC, Grabrian’s finishing his final semester. Along with a full credit load, he works as an IT team resource at a local company and tutors students in his free time. Grabrian is no “typical geek” – extraordinary geek, perhaps.

For more information about the Information Technology-Network Specialist program, click here.

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