Hackathon Student Bios

Thad Zeitler

My name is Thad Zeitler, I am a New England native, having grown up in the northwestern corner of Connecticut. Throughout my childhood, I was asked to fix things and subjected to machinists and engineers.  My love for hacking hit fifth gear when I worked in a little racing shop that specialized in Italian cars.  Being around mechanics and racing, I learned many skills and adapted to the culture of making and breaking things.  The shop was staffed with hard working people who possessed twisted senses of humor and the knack of playing ridiculous pranks. I started working in IT when I moved to Boston in the late 1990s and became obsessed with trying to understand our country’s security after the 9/11 attacks. My interest in information security was heightened following the data breach at TJX Corporation.

My work experience spans health insurance, financial services, banking, and technology. Currently, I am an IT program manager leading acquisition integration efforts for an IoT software company in Boston. When I needed to enhance my career, I found the MSISA program to be the perfect program and chose to focus on vulnerability management. The MSISA materials and skills are relevant to my current work on a daily basis, and so from it I have derived great value. When acquiring new companies, it is important to move quickly to understand the security landscape and assess the risks involved, as newly acquired companies can be targets for hackers. The MSISA program was hard work, it challenged my resolve and as a result I grew professionally. It provided me a great set of new skills and a diverse knowledge base to draw upon. The professors were excellent and the contacts I have made because of the program have been wonderful. I feel empowered to speak with authority to professionals at all levels of our organization, from security researchers, to engineers, and executives. In my role, I am building the IT program for acquisitions and have dealt with sensitive data issues (HIPAA, PCI-DSS) and the numerous security topics that come up during integrations. As a program manager, I am prepared for technical discussions and focus on the security implications of all decisions in an informed manner – a relevant skill in today’s business world.

Our hacking team’s mission during residency week, named “Persistent Arrows,” was a fantastic experience as the team bonded quickly. Through the hacking exercise, we were able to apply what we had learned, doing research and implementing our new tools in a tactical manner. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable this was, to be given the chance to partner with classmates on a single mission for four straight days. I have tried to replicate this hacking ethic and team spirit in my professional environment, encouraging my teams to adapt such an attitude. The residency week is a terrific way to end one’s Norwich experience. Go Arrows!

I intend to continue my relationship with Norwich. I am invested in the motto of “I Will Try” and approach all challenges with this in mind. I hope to continue to contribute to the MSISA program and see it grow. I came away from Norwich with much more than a degree, I found a family of like-minded people, and an institution with a rich history. I am proud to be associated with a school that cares so deeply about its students as well as its place in the future of our country.


Joshua Gaidos, P.E.

I’m an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard serving as a Program Manager in the Office of Information Technology Infrastructure Management.  The Norwich experience was invaluable to building the enterprise viewpoint I use on a daily basis.  My current work involves full life cycle management of enterprise information systems and exercising programmatic synergies with the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.  My previous assignments included engineering and leadership roles conducting patrols in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

I came into Norwich’s MSISA program from a very technical background with master’s degrees in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.  I’m a licensed Professional Engineer in Virginia.  I also hold a variety of licenses and certifications geared towards full spectrum cyber operations such as Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH), CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP), and an Extra Class Amateur Radio license.

Norwich bridged the gap for me between highly technical and highly managerial so that I could go from working directly with the frontline analysts and architects to the CIO and CISO and back again without losing touch of the business impact.  Defending large organizations requires the holistic viewpoint baked into the Norwich philosophy.  Its combination of theory, practice, and research were ideal for building skills to implement real world changes.  They are a national leader in preparing information security professionals.

Taking part in Norwich’s inaugural Hackathon was a perfect complement to the coursework and research.  The Hackathon was an intense program on par with graduate level exercises elsewhere and integral to the MSISA experience.  It forged lasting professional relationships with peers from across the country and doubled the value of the Residency week.


Matthew Townsend, CISSP

My name is Matthew and I currently reside in the Boston, MA area. Prior to joining Norwich, I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Networking and Information Systems from Wentworth Institute of Technology in August 2011. After graduating, I worked as a Helpdesk Technician at Draper Laboratory, located in Cambridge, MA.  I spent the next three years climbing the corporate ladder and after becoming burned out with IT support, I opted to make a career change. In 2015, I entered into the Information Security field and began working as an Associate Computer Security Analyst, also at Draper Laboratory. After only a few months of working the field, I knew I made the right choice and Information Security became my passion. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the field and began researching schools to obtain my Master’s Degree, to which I ultimately ended up selecting Norwich’s Masters in Information Security and Assurance.  This proved to be one of the best decisions I ever could have made in my life. Each seminar was full of knowledgeable individuals and exceptional instructors. Each seminar provided countless opportunities to learn all aspects about Information Security. The final requirement prior to graduating was the mandatory week long residency- something that I looked forward to the entire time I was enrolled in Norwich. I also signed up for Norwich’s first ever Hackathon, in which I worked with a team for 30 hours, searching for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the infrastructure of an unnamed organization. Our hacking team had an exceptional bond and we spent the rest of residency being nearly inseparable. Obtaining my master’s degree from Norwich University, as well as attending residency and the hackathon has definitely been a life changing event for myself- from which I plan to reap the benefits from for many, many years to come.


Mary Kilroy

I work for Norwich University as a computer programmer, and I live in beautiful Northfield, Vermont. I grew up down south where I got my undergrad in Computer Science from Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. I moved to Vermont because I wanted to live where I could hunt, fish, camp, and ski in my own backyard. 3 out of 4 isn’t bad!

I recently graduated from Norwich’s MSISA program where I participated in the Leadership Summit and the Hackathon that started 4 days prior to Residency.  Having a degree in InfoSec has helped me incorporate good security practices in my current career and focus on how best to protect Norwich’s sensitive data.  I’ve also collaborated with our security team to help build a solid user acceptance policy (UAP) for the university.

When I first applied for the program, I was nervous about being able to handle a full-time job, family, and full school workload.  I was relieved to find that not only is the online program flexible enough to accommodate any schedule, the course work was also extremely manageable.  The content of the coursework was challenging and professional, and I feel that this program would help anyone advance in their career in the information security field.  The professors were extremely knowledgeable and very responsive.  The Hackathon will be offered again next year, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for anyone in the MSISA program to try to participate in this event.  The hands on experience and education is invaluable, and the relationships you forge with your classmates will make your Residency experience that much more meaningful.  I’m thankful that I chose Norwich University for my education, and I cherish my inclusion in this Norwich family.