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AWS DeepLens and Machine Learning TechTalk

by Alice Swan Feb 28th, 2019 Cloud EC Inside Events Tech Talks

At this week’s Tech Talk, Jim Davis, a senior software developer for Evans and Chambers Technology, shared some of his experiences at the 2018 Amazon Web Services Re:Invent conference.

The discussion covered the basics of machine learning, as well as DeepLens, a deep-learning high-definition camera developed by Amazon as a sandbox and introduction into the world of machine learning. Jim demonstrated the different machine learning types (supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning) and gave examples and industry use cases for each. Jim’s Tech Talk also included a live demo of setting up DeepLens out of the box, which covered how to install and customize project templates freely available on the AWS site.

Jim also highlighted other takeaways from the AWS conference, such as AWS’s growing serverless services (API Gateway, Lambda, DynamoDB, RDS, etc.) and how Amazon has turned cloud computing into the powerful market segment it is today.

 

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About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

A Peek Inside Evans & Chambers’ Culture and Activities

by Alice Swan Feb 8th, 2019 EC Inside Events

Here at Evans & Chambers Technology (EC) we are invested in hard work, company growth, and strong ethics. As part of that investment, we show our gratitude and appreciation for all the dedication from our team. EC hosts several events each year with employees and their families to  celebrate our culture and employee morale.

Last year, we swooshed into happy hour for a March Madness game, and we set up a friendly employee rivalry by taking guesses on which team would win the game and by how much. Next, employees and their families glammed up for the Virginia Gold Cup in their pastels and crazy hats to give back to our community and grow our EC network. After glamming up, it was time to get down and dirty for our braver EC team members at the Tough Mudder. The Tough Mudder was epic! It included 10 miles of mud and ice baths, rope walks, and monkey bars, all the while having about 5 pounds of mud hanging off our backs. After all that commotion, employees enjoyed some much deserved relaxation at the DC Jazz Fest, bringing the summer to a close.

The EC family welcomed the fall with the Odyssey boat cruise on the Potomac, where we participated in  fun games, won cool prizes, ate delicious food, and played musical chairs! During the year, we snuck in a few happy hours to celebrate our accomplishments each quarter. We finished the year strong with our annual holiday party full of gratitude, cheer, determination, and motivation to keep EC excellent and to give a special thanks to our exceptional employees and the services they provide our customers!

 

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Employee Spotlight

by Alice Swan Feb 5th, 2019 EC Inside

Congratulations to Dave Rabrun for being awarded the Evans & Chambers Excellence Award at the last quarterly All Hands Meeting. The Excellence Award is given each quarter to an employee whose job performance consistently exhibits each of Evans & Chambers’ core values.

Dave is the lead developer for NTIR, an enterprise OSINT system that is developed in the unclassified environment and hosted in C2S. Most notably, Dave spearheaded the development of a cross-domain configuration management process with DevOps best practices to ensure the unclassified and C2S environments stay in sync. His efforts enabled the team to complete the system’s initial deployment to the customer’s C2S environment ahead of schedule. When he’s not moving digital mountains, Dave spends time in the office assisting our intern developers as they gain skills and experiences to prepare them for entry into the workforce.

 

Evans & Chambers Technology Hosts Tradecraft Thursday: The Impact of Rogue Nations’ Nuclear Proliferation on a Global Scale

by Dorian Zimmerman Nov 14th, 2018 EC Inside Events

Recently, Davidian Shirley and Andrew Ewing, counterintelligence analysts with EC, held a Tradecraft Thursday talk. Their presentation, “The Impact of Rogue Nations’ Nuclear Proliferation on a Global Scale,” highlighted the importance of understanding how a rogue nation’s ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) can affect global economies, international sanctions, and political dissonance.

In their talk, they analyzed and discussed six rogue nations: North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Sudan, and Iran. These nations have altered political and economic actions to their benefit by acquiring nuclear capabilities. In order to mitigate global threats, Intelligence analysts must have a profound understanding on how nuclear capabilities can be leveraged to the betterment of rogue nations.

The audience developed a better understanding throughout the presentation on how numerous rogue nations have leveraged WMDs to obtain both preferential trade agreements and submission from lesser states. Other world powers such as China, Russia, and Pakistan willingly supply rogue nations with WMDs to fight proxy wars with America and its allies.

Davidian and Andrew offered examples from Iran and North Korea of how they have leveraged their nuclear capabilities. In 2015, the P5+1 United Nations Council voted to repeal the sanctions levied against Iran in hopes of dismantling Iran’s nuclear enriching program in Bushehr. In 2018, North Korea leveraged its nuclear capabilities to get South Korea, China, and the United States to start negotiations on sanction dissolution.

Tradecraft Thursday is a series of employee-led internal monthly talks dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of professional topics to promote best practices and a shared understanding of common problem sets within our customer spaces. Stay tuned for the next Tradecraft Thursday recap!

Evans & Chambers Technology Hosts Tradecraft Thursday: Elicitation 101

by Dorian Zimmerman Oct 17th, 2018 EC Inside Events

This past month, EC held another Tradecraft Thursday talk presented by Andrew Hansen, a Counter-Intelligence Analyst here. Andrew discussed “Elicitation 101” which is a common method used in the intelligence community to try to extract information from others in the field.

Andrew provided many examples during the lecture about how others might use elicitation to draw out information they are looking for. Two techniques Andrew discussed were flattery and feigned ignorance. People like to feel important as well as help others learn. Elicitation takes advantage of basic human tendencies, which is why it can be so effective. Andrew helped the audience understand when they are more at risk because elicitation can be planned or extemporaneous. The pinnacle of the talk was to show the audience how to protect themselves. If they understand what someone may use or do against them they will be better suited to recognize and combat these tactics. Andrew ended the discussion by sharing counter-elicitation techniques and how the audience can deflect an elicitation attempt.

Tradecraft Thursday is a series of employee-led internal monthly talks dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of professional topics to promote best practices and a shared understanding of common problem sets within our customer spaces. Stay tuned for the next Tradecraft Thursday recap!

Evans & Chambers Technology Hosts Tradecraft Thursday: Accelerating Open-Source Intelligence Through Big Data and Cloud

by Ashley McBride May 9th, 2018 EC Inside Events

In April, EC continued its monthly series of Tradecraft Thursday talks this time hosted by Mr. Joshua Ortiz, Director of Quality Management. Joshua’s topic, “Accelerating Open-Source Intelligence Through Big Data and Cloud” focused on how big data tools are enabling analysts to triage extremely large amounts of information efficiently in order to provide timely recommendations to our nation’s leaders. He was excited to inform the audience that EC is actually unique because it provides these solutions from end to end. The EC engineering team develops software and utilizes tools to capture and present data, while our analysts use the triaged information to build intelligence products.

Joshua provided an example of how entity extraction is helping to deal with triaging data. Years before, to correlate the terms ‘terrorist’ and ‘building’ over even one gigabyte of text data, it might take a team of analysts months to complete. Today, this task can be done in moments. These tools return time to the analyst and the mission. Joshua ended the briefing with a demonstration of image recognition software which demonstrated how big data tools can scan and identify facial images in moments, again allowing the analysts to consider exponentially more data when building out products that will be used for critical national security decisions.

Tradecraft Thursday is a series of employee-led internal monthly talks dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of professional topics to promote best practices and a shared understanding of common problem sets within our customer spaces. Stay tuned for the next Tradecraft Thursday recap!


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Evans & Chambers Technology Hosts Tradecraft Thursday: Structured Analytical Methodologies

by Ashley McBride Apr 26th, 2018 EC Inside Events

EC’s own Mr. Brandon Wood, Senior Counterintelligence Analyst, lead a Tradecraft Thursday talk at Evans & Chambers’ DC office. Brandon’s topic, “Structured Analytical Methodologies” appealed to a cross-section of Team EC, including analysts and those that enrich analysis through tooling and other analytic enabling approaches.

Brandon’s talk focused on the various structured analytic methodologies and techniques used throughout the intelligence community, private sector, and academia. Techniques discussed help analysts challenge judgments, identify mental mindsets, stimulate creativity, and manage uncertainty throughout the intelligence production process. These techniques aide analysts in making confident assessments. Brandon began by discussing the fundamentals of various methodologies and techniques, and providing historical and notional scenarios in which the application of certain techniques may have altered the course of events. As the talk continued, Brandon opened the floor to questions and discussion, allowing the development of additional scenarios and further examination of the various methodologies and techniques. At the conclusion, the audience clearly demonstrated an understanding of structured analytical methodologies and were provided additional resources to enable continued research and drive professional development.

Tradecraft Thursday is a series of employee-led internal monthly talks dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of professional topics to promote best practices and a shared understanding of common problem sets within our customer spaces. Stay tuned for the next Tradecraft Thursday recap!


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Evans & Chambers Hosts First Tradecraft Thursday Event

by Thomas DiBenedetto Aug 9th, 2017 EC Inside Events

On July 28th, EC’s Larry McDowell, Deputy Program Manager & Production Control Officer for the DID (Defense Intelligence Digest) publication, kicked-off the first Tradecraft Thursday presentation at the Evans & Chambers DC office. Several members from across EC were in attendance to learn and discuss the topic.

Larry’s presentation, titled “Best Practices in Writing for Executive Decision Makers,” centered on the best practices when developing intelligence assessments that will be read by government officials, military officers, and other decision makers in the federal government. While his lecture was full of instruction on how to appropriately package an intelligence article, Larry reaffirmed the ultimate purpose behind the articles and decision makers’ desires for them: “We’re about warfighting…defense intelligence. They want to be able to get an edge.” He explained that the key components to a great piece include: knowing one’s audience and their interests, concise and short statements with specific, appropriate language for the audience, a rational structure, and a clear understanding of the reason for the piece’s creation.

Tradecraft Thursdays are a new internal event series that represent EC’s ever-expanding educational offerings to its employees with the intent that they may be enriched by their colleague’s experience and thus prepared to tackle the many challenges in IT security. Future presentations will aim to cover a broader range of professional topics outside of programming and information technology (that which are covered in EC’s Tech Talks) to allow for more diverse content sharing among the non-technologically focused members at EC.

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EC AWS Certification Challenge Results

by Samantha Hess Aug 8th, 2017 Cloud EC Inside Events News

At Evans & Chambers, we don’t only hire incredible talent, we actively encourage and support all employees in their path to self-improvement and certification. With the growing partnership and increased usage of AWS (Amazon Web Services) within EC and our customers, we thought what better way to improve ourselves than to get a few more AWS certifications among our staff.

The first EC AWS Certification Challenge pushed several employees to study hard to receive one of the five AWS certifications in just over 2 months. In addition to the EC bonus for AWS certifications, each person that was successful in earning a certification would be entered for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to AWS re:Invent 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. Re:Invent is a fantastic conference that is focused on all things AWS from learning more about AWS offerings and partners to networking and fun. A trip to re:Invent is a great way to celebrate becoming certified and sharpen additional cloud skills.

The challenge participants were each given a learning path guide along with a copy of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Official Study Guide to start their journey. Throughout the 2 months, participants could communicate within the #awscertchallenge channel on Slack about questions and certifications topics giving them support so they wouldn’t have to study alone. The challenge study period was wrapped up with a study session at Founding Farmers in Tysons Corner, VA. With one of the five attendees already certified, we were able to not only discuss the advantages of leveraging AWS cloud services, but also what to expect for the exam and how to prepare while sipping a few drinks and enjoying delicious food.

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I am pleased to announce that Phil Bozek received not one, but two AWS Certifications and is the official winner of the EC AWS Cert Challenge! Congratulations to Phil for receiving his AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Developer – Associate certifications.

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Thank you to everyone who participated! Even though the certification challenge is over now, EC still has a few people planning to study and receive AWS certifications in the near future and I wish you all the best of luck in achieving your goals.

EC Dominates Third Annual Tough Mudder Challenge

by Thomas DiBenedetto Jun 27th, 2017 EC Inside Events

On Saturday June 10th, Evans & Chambers participated in the annual Tough Mudder event in northern Virginia for the third year in a row. The Tough Mudder Mud Runs are team-centered endurance events that challenge one’s grit through a 10 mile course including over 20 arduous obstacles and, of course, loads of mud. This year Team EC ran 10 and a half miles and faced 21 obstacles all the while enduring the scorching 95 degree weather. Nonetheless, Team EC completed the event in slightly over four hours and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

EC’s Robert Chapell, who had captained the EC Tough Mudder Team for the last three years, says this about the event:

“[The Tough Mudder] is not a race but rather it is a challenge that requires teamwork in order to successfully complete the course. There are many ways that the event builds teamwork. Besides the obvious of working together to successfully negotiate obstacles, teammates lean on each other for support, motivation and inspiration throughout the course… When your fuel tank is empty and you feel like you can’t go on, we inspire and motivate each other to keep going.  There are also challenges along the way which allow people to safely conquer their fears and set new personal bests … Participating in the Tough Mudder is a great way to work together as a team, to get to know each other,  to set and achieve personal goals, and to challenge yourself all while having fun and getting a little dirty.”

Each year, the participants have enjoyed the experience, citing the team-building and camaraderie aspects as highlights. EC Business Analyst and first-time participant Phylicia Phillips remarked about her debut as a Tough Mudder:

“As a first time participant of the Tough Mudder, I think it went great! It was definitely a challenge but the team stuck together, stayed motivated and pushed through every obstacle… I did not know what to expect, but with some motivation from the team, I came out feeling stronger and more confident. The team is what made the Tough Mudder memorable…”

Others, nicknamed “Legionnaires,” had so much fun that they have returned for subsequent events.

With another muddy race under its belt, the EC Tough Mudder team will assuredly return to rule the day and bring each other closer to excellence in 2018.

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