The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Computer science teacher aids FBI in cyber cases

By Solange Kalala/reporter

Protecting and keeping the country safe is the reason one adjunct computer science instructor chose to work at Infragard, an agency that helps the FBI find malware and stop cyberterrorism.“Drawing a line between my two jobs is really easy because on one hand, there is my passion of teaching, on the other hand, the sense of patriotism,” Michael Lewis said.Investigating crimes, finding reasons why people commit them and finally sending them to jail are reasons to do a government job, he said.

After serving in the Army, Lewis worked as a computer support tech. He was promoted to a third-level tech support to the training department before the company he was working for went out of business. Lewis then got a job at ITT after answering a newspaper ad.

Lewis has taught for 15 years, but he has been at TCC for only a year. He teaches business computer information systems applications and programming at TCC and the University of Texas at Arlington. Before that, he taught computer forensics at Westwood College in Dallas. In addition, Lewis owns a personal business as a computer consultant.

Of his many occupations, Lewis likes teaching the most because it is fun and always exciting, he said. He likes when students are asked a question and don’t know the answer and described it as a light bulb moment. 

“I like teaching because I am responsible for the teaching material and not responsible for students’ learning decision,” he said.

On the contrary, his job with Infragard is stressful because the company considers him liable for any mistake and that can affect people’s lives, Lewis said.

Even though stressful, his patriotism and his strong interest in counterterrorism keep him going. Lewis and other members of Infragard serve the FBI as civilians in observing and tracking unusual events, such as the SUV that contained a bomb in Times Square in New York in May.

“I was so upset when I learned about the car bomb in New York,” Lewis said.

Infragard has several fields comprising transportation, agriculture, shipping (maritime and overland), energy, cyber and electrical and water infrastructure.

“We don’t get assignments, but we look for web activity on particular websites and help spread the news about the new virus or worm,” he said. “If a virus comes out, we have to study different attacks to the technology of computers, find where they come from and post results to the Infragard website.”

Lewis found out about the job at Infragard while he was taking a counter-cyberterrorism course. One of his professors encouraged him to apply and recommended him through the teacher’s FBI contacts.

Lewis had no formal training for the job. His master’s degree in information and computer security, 25 years with computers and a strong interest in counterterrorism were enough to qualify him for the job.

“I would encourage anyone to work with Infragard,” Lewis said. “I feel safe, and we [members] don’t carry weapons.”

Those who know Lewis describe him as a caring, nice, easygoing person.

Student Yennhi Tran had asked around before registering for class and was advised to pick other instructors but ended up in Lewis’ class.

“Taking Mr. Lewis’ class is not something that I regret,” Tran said. “He is so funny and makes people come to school and not be bored at the end.”

Even though he works at Infragard, Lewis said he never neglects his teaching job. He dedicates himself to his teaching career and to his students to whom he gives as much time as possible for them to learn better.

Cameron Green, another student, appreciates Lewis’ teaching style.

“He tries his best to teach us [the] best way that he can,” Green said.

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