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Duane Thresher, B.S., M.S., M.Phil., Ph.D.


U.S. Air Force logo and ICBM in silo.

U.S. Air Force Brat



I was born on an Air Force ICBM base in the U.S. (military dependents are often affectionately referred to as "brats") during the Cold War while my father, an Air Force officer, was manning a missile silo, and I was raised on Air Force bases throughout the U.S. and in Japan.

(Interestingly, regarding ICBMs, a few years ago my wife, daughter, and I lived among active silos in Montana and while I was at MIT I did some mathematical modeling of nuclear war scenarios with Russia.)


B.S. from MIT in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

B.S. from MIT in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science



Since Information Technology (IT) is really communication-of-information technology, IT is mostly computer networking. (Cyber is a prefix meaning IT, so for example, IT security is also known as cybersecurity.) Computer includes supercomputers, desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. There has been a "convergence" and all of these devices now communicate -- their most important function -- over the same networks, particularly the Internet. Thus, being an IT expert means being a networking expert.

Networking, at its first, lowest, physical layer (hardware; e.g., cables, wireless), is mostly electrical engineering. At its last, highest, application layer (software; e.g., the World Wide Web), it is mostly computer science. However, at either end, extensive knowledge of the other end is necessary.


M.S. from UA and NCAR.

M.S. from UA and NCAR in Supercomputing



I took many advanced courses at the University of Arizona (UA) regarding climate modeling on supercomputers and did very well in all of them.

I then did research in climate modeling on supercomputers there using National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) supercomputers, some of the fastest in the world.


M.Phil. from Columbia and NASA GISS.

M.Phil. from Columbia and NASA GISS in Supercomputing



At Columbia University and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), before I was allowed to pursue a Ph.D., I had to take numerous advanced courses regarding climate modeling on supercomputers, in which I did very well, and pass an oral qualifying exam, all for which I received an M.Phil. (Master of Philosophy).


Ph.D. from Columbia and NASA GISS.

Ph.D. from Columbia and NASA GISS in Supercomputing



For my Ph.D. I continued to do research in climate modeling on supercomputers at Columbia University and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) using NASA supercomputers, also some of the fastest in the world, like those at NCAR.

Again (see M.S. Credentials entry), this research required a lot of sophisticated programming (i.e., computer science; see B.S. Credentials entry) with knowledge of the underlying hardware (i.e., electrical engineering; see B.S. Credentials entry). For advanced study in this I attended NASA's High Performance Computing School at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD, as well as building my own "supercomputer" (same networked parallel processors but fewer and slower).


CCNA Courses from Cisco and UAF CTC.

CCNA Courses (Four) from Cisco and UAF CTC



Cisco is the leading networking company, concentrating in the more physical/hardware end (routers, switches, etc.) of networking; i.e., more electrical engineering than computer science (see B.S. Credentials entry). Cisco also came up with the most popular networking certification, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), which is often a requirement for IT jobs, when there are any. You don't have to take courses to get this, just pass a single for-profit test any way you can.

To have a much better understanding of the subject and to be able to prove this with my grades, I took four 4-credit (not 3 since it includes labs) CCNA preparatory courses (one academic year) from Cisco and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Community & Technical College (CTC). I took the harder version of these courses, Exploration, not the easier version, Discovery. I did extremely and exceptionally well, having received an A+ in all four courses; see CCNA Courses and Grades below for course descriptions and all my grades in them.


FOT Courses.

Fiber Optic Technician (FOT) Courses



Fiber optics are the fastest and most secure networking media (cables, so hardware, so an electrical engineering topic). They form the backbone of the Internet around the world (for the U.S. see the image on the Legal page). Thus, knowledge of fiber optics is necessary for networking and IT work (see B.S. Credentials entry).

I took a combined course to receive Certified Fiber Optic Technician (CFOT) and Advanced Fiber Optic Technician (AFOT) certifications. I then took a course to receive Outside Plant Fiber Optic Technician (CFospT) certification. In both courses I did exceptionally well; see FOT Certifications and Grades below.


Network Engineer at ARSC and UAF.

Network Engineer at ARSC and UAF



A network engineer works mostly at the more physical/hardware end of networking; i.e., more electrical engineering than computer science (see B.S. Credentials entry).

I was a network engineer at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). ARSC had some of the fastest supercomputers in the world and was a Department of Defense facility, which thus emphasized security, including requiring security training.


Security expertise from hacking and Thresher Networks.

Security Expertise from Hacking and Thresher Networks



In addition to the considerable network, thus IT (see B.S. Credentials entry), security education and experience I received above, I gained even more from two importantly-different perspectives -- as victim and as hacker -- while CEO of my first IT company, Thresher Networks LLC (Montana).

My family and I were victims of not one, but two(!), major health insurer data breaches: Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS) and Premera Blue Cross.