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July 30, 2013

CTC Alumni Spotlight: Jeff Liford

Degree: A.A.S., Computer & Networking Technology ’12, Cum Laude

Pursuing a B.S. in Technology 

Jeff Liford is an alumnus of the Computer Networking & Office Technologies Department. He continues to contribute to the department through his work as an adjunct faculty member and his service on the computer & networking technology program's advisory committee.
For some people learning is best achieved by doing. Alumnus Jeff Liford can attest to this. A self-described experimenter and tinkerer, Liford is an IT professional who attributes his success to UAA’s open learning environment, which welcomed new ideas and, well … tinkering.

A 2012 graduate of the Computer Networking & Office Technologies Department (CNOT), Liford’s path to enrollment at UAA was somewhat roundabout, taking him to places such as Hawaii, Asia, Iraq, and Europe with the Army. Alaska was his final destination, and he started attending UAA shortly before leaving active duty.

“I’ve always been interested in, and rather good at dealing with computers,” said Liford. “During my time in the Army, I was afforded the opportunity to spend a little time in information technology, which cemented my interest and convinced me to pursue my education more seriously.”

While his time in the military confirmed his interest in IT, his passion for the field only intensified while working toward his degree in computer & networking technology at UAA. Liford started an enterprise network group, which resulted in a student-run network that mimicked a real IT enterprise environment. The experience afforded students the opportunity to implement enterprise solutions and learn skills immediately applicable in the industry.

As part of another initiative, Liford advocated for CNOT to offer curriculum in virtualization and cloud infrastructure technology, which is commonly used by large organizations. This dovetailed nicely with the department’s Cisco-Certified Networking Associate (CCNA) occupational endorsement certificate.

“My experience at UAA has given me the opportunity to put my hands on real equipment and configure and deploy real systems,” said Liford. “The faculty has been very supportive of additional projects that enhance the overall learning process.”

A production version of the custom storage prototype Liford designed
for the virtual desktop pilot. The system will also be available to train
students in CNT A290: Introduction to Enterprise Storage.
Liford’s hands-on experience in the classroom combined with his proactive approach to learning paid off in big ways later. Through connections he made in the classroom, he landed employment while completing his associate degree. Recently, he accepted a contract position with the Department of Defense as a systems and network administrator.

Although he is now an alumnus, Liford continues to contribute to CNOT. Following his graduation, the department invited him to return as an adjunct professor. He piloted the deployment of the first virtual desktop infrastructure for the computer information & office systems program. This has resulted in a joint project between CNOT and UAA IT Services to incorporate the technology into the department’s classrooms.

Consequently, the very system he designed for the virtual desktop infrastructure pilot will also help form the basis for curriculum for a brand new class offered by the computer & networking technology program, CNT A290: Introduction to Enterprise Storage.

Liford currently is working to develop new course material in scripting, automation, and virtualization. Not only is he bringing his observations regarding the industry and its needs back to the classroom, he is also serving as an industry representative on the computer & networking technology advisory committee. He continues to further his own education by pursuing his Bachelor of Science in technology through the Career & Technical Education Department.