IST lecturer brings 30 years of industry experience to the classroom

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
September 25, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — David Hozza, a Masters of Professional Studies graduate of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), has joined the faculty as a lecturer for the fall 2017 semester.

Amid a successful 30 year career in information technology, Hozza’s Penn State journey began when he dropped off his daughter, Caroline, for her freshman year at University Park in 2010.

He said, “When we first came up here for her orientation, that’s when I saw Penn State World Campus advertisements.”

With his interest piqued, he decided to return to World Campus to pursue his degree. While working on his capstone courses, he formed a bond with the late David Hall, former dean of IST, who took a keen interest in Hozza’s technical background and suggested that he consider an adjunct role with the World Campus after graduation.

After graduation, he began juggling his full-time job as a storage engineer at Guardian Life Insurance in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with teaching IST and SRA courses through World Campus. But once he began teaching, he realized how much he enjoyed it. So when the college began looking for full-time lecturers, Hozza jumped at the opportunity.

“I made the decision to leave industry after more than 30 years to try to convey what I’ve learned in industry to students,” he said.

Hozza is able to draw on this wealth of experience in industry while teaching. During his career at Guardian Life Insurance, he held technical roles in Unix, Data Storage, Security, and more recently their Hybrid Cloud. He also played key roles in engineering data migrations for large projects such as Mergers and Acquisitions, Data Center migrations, and Hyper Convergence.

One major project occurred when the company’s New York data center was disabled after the Sept. 11 attacks. The center, located in the Wall Street area, had to be shut down due to smoke and debris entering the ventilation systems. Petabytes of data had to be restored from tape to their backup site in Bethlehem; the process was time consuming and error prone. After that event, Hozza played a key role in relocating the data center to a remote facility in western Massachusetts.

Faced with a complete rebuild of their data systems, he said, “We were able to step back and look at all the new technology that was available. We implemented asynchronous replication of our data so that we could recover to within one hour as opposed to days with tape.”

Like many professors at IST, it’s his first-hand insight into industry that has shaped the way he approaches teaching. In weekly quizzes, for example, students answer what Hozza calls interview questions.

“Some of my quizzes are like the technical interview,” he said. “They take the form of job interview questions to see if students read and comprehended the material.”

He added, “I draw a lot on my [professional] experience – I’m thinking ‘how are students going to use this in the real world and why it is important to know?’”

Hozza also says interacting with students and feeling the buzz of campus is what drew him to the world of academia. But as a lecturer, he doesn’t plan to stray too far from his professional roots.

“We are preparing these students for the real world," he said. "This industry changes at a rapid pace and students need to be ready to adapt and think critically."

Last Updated October 23, 2017