Computer Guru by Day; Local Musician by Night
Field of StudyCybersecurity
A Navy veteran, Dr. Ted Ward teaches Computer Science and Programming at TCC. But on the weekends, you just might find him playing drums in a local band.
Although Cybersecurity began developing in the 1970s, the term didn’t exist in the English lexicon in 1982 when Ted Ward, Ph.D. decided to take a new computer programming course at Sequoyah High School in Claremore. Now, it’s a fast-growing and high-paying field that Dr. Ward knows a lot about.
"I was immediately fascinated with computers,” recalls Dr. Ward of his first computer course. A fascination that is now the basis of his career as Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Tulsa Community College where he teaches Computer Science and Computer Programming.
Although he was interested in computers, after high school, he enrolled at Berklee Music School in Boston thinking he would make a living playing music. “Berklee was very jazz oriented, and I was totally unfamiliar with jazz at the time, having grown up in rural Oklahoma,” explains Dr. Ward, who left the school after one semester.
He decided to join the Navy and served for three years as an Aviation Antisubmarine Electronics Technician. “While in the Navy I purchased a portable Compaq computer, known as a ‘luggable’ back then, and continued programming as a hobby,” adds Dr. Ward.
When his time in the Navy ended, he returned to his home state and decided to concentrate on computers.
He earned a bachelor's from Oklahoma State University, a master’s at the University of Tulsa and his doctorate from OSU – all in Computer Science. He also attended the TU Cyber Program and earned a certificate of completion.
During his career, he has worked in both business and higher education settings all focused on computers -- from being a software developer and system administrator for various companies in Oklahoma and Colorado to teaching at Northeastern State University and OSU-IT. He joined TCC in 2015 and is part of the new Cybersecurity associate degree program the College added beginning this Fall.
“The students here are fantastic and varied; every type of student is well represented from traditional high school to adult learners of every stripe,” says Dr. Ward. “Teaching at TCC is my favorite job ever, and I hope to retire from here.”
If he’s not teaching a class at TCC, you might find him giving a computer security speech at various security conferences throughout the state of Oklahoma. “I like to attend Cybersecurity conferences whenever I get the chance to learn new things and meet interesting practitioners,” says Dr. Ward. “I have been attending the BSidesOK computer security conference for many years. The organization is completely nonprofit and volunteer-driven and offers free, practical, hands-on training and information for improving information security.”
While he makes his living on computers and teaching, he hasn’t given up music altogether. You can still find him behind a drum set a handful of times a year at community-based events in the Tulsa area.
Tell us more about AI. “Using AI as a starting point for almost any technical project will be a huge leap forward. Most IT projects (of all types) are not completely unique but still require customization by hand. If an AI can give you a good starting point, it will eliminate many of the less interesting parts of a project and let the technician concentrate on the important areas unique to the project at hand.”
How do you incorporate Computer Science outside of TCC? “It is not hard to find someone who needs ‘tech support’ -- from my mother to my friends who own small, one-person businesses. They all use computers and need help, so I am often the one who is ‘on call’ to help with their computer issues.”
Back to music...do you still play? “I play drums in a local bluegrass/old-time band called klondike5. We typically play around Tulsa eight or 10 times per year at events such as Oktoberfest, Mayfest, Turkey Mountain Basecamp etc.