2011 Summer/Fall REAL Magazine

Strike Zone

Computer marvel Tommy Staab hits the pocket

Tommy Staab | DCTC Alumnus

When Tommy Staab started bowling around the age of 14, he was no great shakes. By the time he was 16 and bowling competitively, he was something else again.

“I learned to compete at a very high level by bowling thousands of practice games,” said Staab, an alumnus of the Networking Administration program at Dakota County Technical College, graduating in 2009 with a 3.95 grade point average. “That’s also how I got good at computer networking—by studying thousands of hours.”

Today, Tommy Staab, 21, is attending Wichita State University on a bowling scholarship. He is double majoring in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering with a 3.85 cumulative GPA. He bowls on the developmental team for the Shockers, the nation’s most accomplished collegiate bowling program, one with 19 national championships, 10 for the men’s team, nine for the women’s.

On top of that, Staab works as a network engineer under contract with the Cisco Technical Support Center, troubleshooting the most difficult cases, ones his team members couldn’t solve. After just one week working at the center, he started taking on cases usually reserved for engineers with 50 times the experience. Cisco, a multinational networking systems colossus with more than $80 billion in total assets, has opted through the GRA program to cover a majority of Staab’s graduate school expenses—all the way up to his Ph.D. if he goes that route. While in grad school, Staab is slated to bowl for the Shockers A squad.

Tommy Staab lives by this quote: “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”—Vince Lombardi

On top of that, he works at WSU’s High Performance Computing Center/UCATS as a networking specialist, working on a number of major IT systems on campus. He also works for the National Institute for Aviation Research under contract for a local aviation company.

“DCTC gave me the motivation and the confidence to not just stay focused on Cisco, but to also expand my horizons and look for other work related to my degree,” he said. “I used my knowledge from DCTC to work at Cisco, and my knowledge from Wichita State to work at NIAR. Without DCTC none of this would be possible.”

“Without DCTC, I know I would not be where I am today. Not only did my A.A.S. degree open the right doors, but DCTC also gave me the hands-on experience with routers and switching that allowed me to excel as a network engineer at Cisco.”

Staab’s ability to consistently hit the pocket at work, in the classroom and on the lanes is even more amazing when he reports that he barely made it out of Eagan High School, graduating at the bottom of his class with a 1.81 GPA.

“I was sick a lot in high school,” he said. “When I got behind, I got discouraged. What saved me was my skill at bowling and my love for computers.”

That love for computers brought him to DCTC where he met Information Systems Instructor Judy Suddendorf, who Staab praises as by far his toughest teacher. Suddendorf remembers Staab as an incredibly motivated student with an uncommonly high aptitude for all things computers.

“Tommy is scary-smart,” she said. “When he was in class, he was always working to inspire his fellow students, telling them to pay attention, apply themselves and not waste their education.”

While attending DCTC, Staab keyed not only on his coursework, but also on getting ready for what he calls “indispensable” Microsoft and Cisco certifications. He pointed to study bombers who cram to pass certification exams, but have no direct experience with networking hardware, making them all but useless in the field.

“Without DCTC, I know I would not be where I am today,” Staab said. “Not only did my A.A.S. degree open the right doors, but DCTC also gave me the hands-on experience with routers and switching that allowed me to excel as a network engineer at Cisco. Because of DCTC, I went on to earn Microsoft and Cisco certifications essential to the career of any IT person.”

For information about Information Systems educational opportunities at DCTC, check out these program pages:
Or contact any of the following instructors:
Real Fantasy Cash

While attending DCTC, Tommy Staab played Final Fantasy XI online, mining game currency he then turned around and sold to other gamers for thousands of dollars in real money, which he used to help finance his college education.

Image courtesy of GameWallpapers.com hosted by JTLnet.com

2 Responses to “Strike Zone”

  1. Erin Edlund Says:

    Is that Mark Zuckerberg?

  2. Gerry Says:

    Haha, sure looks like him. I was thinking the exact same thing:)