Faculty Spotlight: Charlie Richardson
“If you cannot explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it.” Charlie Richardson’s favorite quote by the Nobel prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman
Dr. Charlie Richardson, adjunct faculty for Cybersecurity in the Business & Applied Technology Division, has always enjoyed making complicated topics easier for others to understand. “Given my technical background, I thought this would be a good way to share my experiences in real world applications with others who are just beginning their careers,” he explained. Charlie hadn’t always planned to become an educator, but he was interested in the process of education. “Beginning at the engineering-oriented high school I attended, I became fascinated by the approaches used by effective versus ineffective teachers. Since then, I earned a B.S. in Physics from the University of Miami (Florida) in 1970, a D.D.S. from the Medical College of Virginia in 1980, and an M.S. in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland in 2011. Throughout those widely-dispersed years of education, the teaching techniques that actively involved the students in their learning were very memorable and made a lasting impression,” he said.
In 2005, Charlie retired from the U.S. Navy after 34 years, having served five years as a Supply Corps logistics officer (including 13 months wintering-over in Antarctica), 14 years as a dentist, six years as the head of a research department, and finally nine years as the head of Radiology Computer Services at a large hospital. While there, he was responsible for converting from film to distributed digital imaging and also introduced three-dimensional radiologic imaging to the hospital. In one way or another, Charlie has been involved in computer operations and programming for 55 years. “I took my first computer course in college in 1967, using an IBM punch-card machine to submit a program in Fortran with a deck of cards, then waiting 24-48 hours to see if I had multiplied four numbers successfully. In 1971, I learned machine-language programming on a UNIVAC mainframe. In 1981, I was database programming under CP/M using 8” floppy disks, then waiting two hours to index 5,000 records. In 1987, I can remember participating in a screaming group discussion on the dreaded upcoming commercialization of the Internet. By 1990, I was already involved with computer network installation and maintenance,” explained Charlie. From 1990 to 2005, he was primarily involved in managing I.T. systems including procurement, installation, and systems administration of both Windows and UNIX networks. While in the Navy, he taught college-level academic courses in Algebra, Biostatistics, Research Methodology, and TCP/IP Computer Networking to Navy personnel.
In September 2012, HCC was fortunate to add Charlie Richardson as an adjunct faculty member for Cybersecurity in the Business & Applied Technology Division. Since then, Charlie has been focused on the CIS-135 foundational course in computer networking that begins to prepare students to pass the CompTIA Network+ certification exam. “There have been four different and evolutionary versions of the CompTIA certification exam since I began teaching this course. These versions were N10-005, N10-006, N10-007, and now N10-008. As each new version of the CompTIA certification exam was released, the learning objectives, textbook, and related teaching materials all needed to be changed and updated. In addition, I would take each version of the exam as it changed, so that I would know what topics to emphasize in the course,” said Charlie. “Computer networking technologies and security are constantly changing and there is an inherent necessity to staying current in order to make the course and my lecture presentations more relevant,” he added.
This current academic year (2021-22), he has been instrumental in the update of the CIS-135 curriculum to the most current CompTIA Network+ body of knowledge. He was also instrumental in the effective transition of the course to the competency-based education and format as part of the Hire Harford First grant, which is a three-year program to streamline cybersecurity students into the workforce. Charlie’s contributions have had a positive impact in implementing this innovative teaching approach and contributed to the division’s ability to maintain the quality instruction required of a Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense. “It was very satisfying to be able to concentrate my focus on the CIS-135 course and its development, sharing my materials with the other faculty, and making sure that the course stayed current and helpful for students progressing into more advanced cybersecurity courses and the Cisco equipment training courses offered at HCC. The CIS-135 course is often the first difficult challenge for those students wishing to pursue cybersecurity training, so I felt it was imperative to give the students a solid foundation in computer networking technologies,” he explained.
Charlie’s assistance in implementing the Competency-Based Mastery Learning (CBML) technique in CIS-135 involved an entirely new curriculum approach. “In the contemporary world of cybersecurity, including information assurance and network security, there is a requirement for continuous learning and building of knowledge and skills. Employers are looking for not only recognized certifications that demonstrate knowledge achievement, but also want to hire candidates who have confidence in their ability to apply that knowledge functionally. On the job, it’s just as important to have confidence in what you know as it is to appreciate what you do not know. Students will build proficiency with experience in the workplace; however, a solid foundation is needed on which to build those skills. The CIS-135 course is now designed to help the student learner master those fundamental concepts of computer networking and build that needed foundation,” added Charlie.
He wants his students to appreciate the complexities of cybersecurity, the many avenues of sub-specialization available in cybersecurity, and understand that to become successful in cybersecurity, they need to be lifelong learners. Before the COVID pandemic, Charlie enjoyed face-to-face classes with his students and tried to use that time to present the material in interesting ways to keep the students engaged: “I developed a ‘cable making lab’ to teach students how network cabling is constructed. I obtained bulk rolls of network cable, terminations and tools, and cable testers for the students to make and test their own cables. After the pandemic struck, I switched to using Microsoft Teams for my online presentations, offered individual online tutoring, and chose expanded required online assignments using a third-party vendor that offered network simulations and problem troubleshooting.”
When Charlie is not working to make complicated things simpler to aid students, he likes to follow his adult sons’ hobbies, explaining, “My older son is a part-time auto racing driver, and my younger son is involved in post-collegiate rugby. I very much enjoy following and attending both of their activities, as much as I can.”
We are pleased to recognize Charlie Richardson for his dedication and many contributions to the College and its students, faculty and staff. His passion for education and drive to continually improve the educational experience for his students is why Charlie is this month’s Faculty Spotlight. Congratulations, Charlie!