OSU-OKC Computer Forensic Program Readies Students With Cutting-Edge Technology
Pictured are OSU-OKC computer forensics students with instructor Lt. Adam Flowers. From left to right, Brandon Loomis, Lt. Flowers, Jared Horton, Jeffrey Clinkscales, Shaun Rowell and Cody Siebert.
As the only college in Oklahoma to offer an associate degree in computer forensics/e-Discovery, OSU-Oklahoma City has taken the responsibility of training its students to a new level. The university’s information technology-computer forensics/e-Discovery option, has not only ordered the latest and greatest in forensic technology for the upcoming fall 2014 semester, it also offers degrees, certificates and professional training from those currently in the field.
Computer forensics adjunct instructor Lt. Adam Flowers has been teaching computer forensics at OSU-OKC since 2012 and has worked specifically in the field of computer crimes, forensics and fraud investigations for the past three years. He is also a Canadian County sheriff’s officer with special commission from OSBI on the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Flowers has put so many child predators in jail he was awarded the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association Executive Director’s Award in June 2013. Flowers is the third award winner since OSA’s inception in 1990.
He warns, however, that the task of finding child predators is not for the faint of heart. “Students have to prepare themselves mentally and emotionally for what they’re going to see,” Flowers said. “In the environment that you will be put into, you have to have that dedication to the victim… you must be honest, trustworthy and a self-starter.”
With the current software that has been ordered students will be training on the same cutting-edge equipment that is used by professionals.“They are getting equipment that has been proven in federal court,” Flowers said. “We are giving them the top-of-the-line tools so they can go right out into the workforce.”
Information systems and technology professor Kemit Grafton said the best candidates for this type of work can vary, but often include veterans, wounded veterans, law enforcement officers who need off the street or the reserves who want to do more to help the community.
As a computer forensics/e-Discovery major, students will have the choice between law enforcement and the civil (commercial or private sector) side of the program. The training, however, is the same. Flowers, who has chosen the law enforcement side, said it is important to remember that service to others is the ultimate goal. “On the civil side,” Flowers continues, “you will be put into situations where people’s futures are on the line. Whatever you find could get a person fired or could destroy a business.”
Flowers said another challenge in the field of internet crimes against children and child pornography is seeing the wide range of contraband and not taking it home with them. “What they [professionals] are doing when they go out and recover the information, they are holding criminals accountable and victims will be rescued. You will help serve the community in a way that a lot of people can’t,” he said.
Although the field of computer forensics comes with obvious challenges, the job comes with an equal amount of reward. For Flowers, the single most rewarding part of his job is “being able to bring to justice people who are hurting and exploiting children.”
Information technology–computer forensics/e-Discovery Option is a branch of digital forensic science pertaining to legal evidence found in computers and digital storage media. The goal of forensics is to examine digital media in a forensically sound manner with the aim of identifying, preserving, recovering, analyzing and presenting facts and opinions about the information.
For more information about information technology and the different options available at OSU-OKC, visit www.osuokc.edu/engineering/itd.aspx. OSU-OKC’s summer and fall enrollment begins March 24.