Dusting for fingerprints, scouring phone records and hunting for clues are all typical of police investigative work. Joshua Durham, double major in computer science and mathematics, found out computer forensics and other techniques are key to cracking cases in this age of technology.
It was during an Association for Computing Machinery meeting that Durham learned of an internship opportunity that would challenge his growing knowledge in computer science. The Springfield Police Department selected Durham as one of two interns to help in retrieving data from computers used in criminal cases. “As an intern, I learned about the techniques and tools used in computer forensics and how to apply them to real world cases,” said Durham.
The internship not only taught Durham how to retrieve data, but it also allowed him to help write software for tracking data. “Some of the types of data we looked for were file systems, pictures, videos and actually just about any kind of digital data you can think of,” said Durham.
One of the most important tasks Durham had during his internship was to locate pictures, videos, documents and data that had been deleted. “When people had tried to delete, modify or hide data on their computer, we could find it, and it could be used in court or help in an investigation,” said Durham. This process can be tedious; data has to be copied bit by bit in order for it to be recovered completely.
Durham is grateful for the training he received from those he worked with during the internship. In addition, the office of web and new media hired Durham to help with projects as interim technical and programming support. In this position, Durham maintained and developed code for Missouri State’s websites and web based applications.
“It has a lot to do with my degree since it has required me to utilize everything I’ve learned while studying computer science at Missouri State University,” said Durham. “It's really great because the job is so dynamic, and I learn something new every day.”
After graduation, Durham is planning on pursuing a PhD, but he knows that the computer science program at Missouri State provided him with a solid foundation for whatever career he chooses to pursue in the future. “Classes are small, students are able to interact with professors without any trouble, the department provides many internship opportunities and the faculty are great about helping students out when they graduate.”