Dr. Jeff Blessing
Dr. Jeffrey Blessing describes himself as a computer geek who likes to build things. He also enjoys the challenge of competition, as a way to motivate himself and his students.
Blessing is the devoted coach of the MSOE Cyber Raiders Organization for Networking (CRON) team. For the past seven years, CRON has made it to regionals in the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, finishing as high as second place.
“When you consider we’re the only university at regionals that lacks a full-time cybersecurity program, that tells you our students can compete with powerhouse schools without the specialized training they receive,” said Blessing. “It speaks well to the depth of our technology programs and the strong foundation they provide our students.”
Blessing developed his own idea for a smart device that recently won the 2019 Foxconn “Smart Cities-Smart Futures” competition, and was also chosen as a finalist in the Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest. “Essentially, it’s an Internet of Things (loT) device that uses deep learning to learn the communication behavior of malware in order to identify and defeat it,” said Blessing. The resulting product could be realized in hardware or software.
The love of competition took root in Blessing as a kid playing sports. It was his number one passion, he said. But when he realized that an athletic scholarship to college was a long shot, he channeled his competitive spirit into scoring the best grades.
Blessing earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and then his master’s at the University of California-San Diego.
He has worked as a software engineer at Johnson Controls and as a senior research engineer at Allen-Bradley. He was also part-owner of an athletic club in Oak Creek before joining MSOE’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department in 1986.
Blessing went on to earn his doctorate at UWM, and beginning in 2002, served as program director of Management Information Systems in the Rader School of Business for more than a decade.
“I’m continually learning about new computing technology, and I try to develop courses around using that technology in business settings,” he said.
Blessing is a founding member of the KEEN program and served as interim KEEN board chairman in 2006. “At MSOE, I was the principle investigator on all of the institution’s KEEN grants from 2006 to 2015 and used that position to begin a long process of instilling business acumen in engineers of all disciplines.”
As a CREATE Faculty Fellow, Blessing said he would like to see MSOE formalize a way for business and engineering students and faculty to work together to develop the experiences necessary to teach the principles of entrepreneurship and servant leadership.
“When the economy turns south, it’s important to have a skill set that can quickly produce value for others,” said Blessing. “In this type of environment, all the action is at the intersection of disciplines. Engineers who can also create and sustain businesses are very valuable, and business graduates who are able to effectively work within engineering teams are equally valued.”
Outside of teaching, Blessing continues to use athletics as an outlet and release from his studies. “Nowadays, I find it’s much easier to ride my bike or go for a long walk than to run five miles; it’s much easier on the joints too!”