Santwana Das, assistant professor of information technology and cybersecurity at NOVA’s Manassas Campus, enjoys fostering students interest in STEM-related fields. A highly trained IT professional, both in the public and private sector, she uses her personal journey of self-discovery to encourage her students to always be receptive to change.
A native of West Bengal, India, Das earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Calcutta. After graduating from college, the reality of finding a job in her field became a challenging task, causing her to shift her focus and participate in an apprenticeship program to receive training in civil engineering.
“During my last year in college, I thought to myself, what do I do now? I realized that my major would not allow me to land a job right after I graduated,” Das said. “At that time, only jobs in HR, administration, retail and finance were available. I didn’t need a physics degree to work at these places. I was skilled in mathematics, programming concepts and scientific principles and I wanted to work in those areas. The idea of not finding a job in my field made me nervous about my future.”
After completing an apprenticeship, Das gained the qualifications needed to explore career opportunities in the information technology field. She has served as a software developer and as a business system analysis for a large-scale enterprise in the retail industry for more than six years. Das has also worked as a part-time consultant for a company in Sterling, focusing on building secure execution environments on Androids for enterprise users.
Das connection with NOVA began shortly after her relocation to the US in 2002. She enrolled in a few math, English/writing and humanities courses at the Annandale Campus and was thoroughly impressed with the quality of teaching. Later, she started her own teaching career at NOVA as an adjunct cybersecurity professor for the College’s Workforce Development program. In 2014, she joined the Manassas Campus as a full-time faculty member.
Das has served as the NOVA-Manassas Liaison for The George Washington University College of Professional Studies in Integrated Information Science and Technology, a direct pathway program for NOVA transfer students to enroll in the bachelor’s degree program at GW since 2011. Initially, working in academia was an unexpected career path, yet Das describes the experience as a positive turning point in her life.
“I discovered that teaching is a great way to see how much of an impact you can have on the lives of others,” Das said. “I realized if you sincerely draw from your own knowledge and skill-set, you can assist students in becoming highly trained professionals. NOVA has been my inspiration and it has completely changed my perspective. I love what I do and I don’t regret letting go of my IT industry career.”
Das earned a second bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and a master’s degree in Information Security and Assurance from George Mason University. She also has credentials as a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).