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Bartons Networking Specialist Program stresses innovation and real-world experience
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Kris Schneider

The field of information technology (IT) is ever-changing. The only way to stay on the cutting-edge is to deliberately sprint ahead of the curve, ready to learn about the latest and greatest developments. Barton Community College’s Networking Specialist Instructor Kris Schneider is well aware of the need to innovate and is continuously finding ways to do so in the classroom.
“In technology things are changing constantly,” Schneider said. “You have to be innovative, otherwise, you’ll just fall behind. If you’re staying still, you’re not moving ahead and you can’t do that in this field. Being innovative constantly is what drives me and made me go into this field and it’s really exciting.”
While the program is referred to as “The Networking Specialist Program” Schneider stressed that the program covers so much more than networking.
“This program covers three broad areas including computer repair, where they learn to fix hardware elements. We have the security side, which is huge right now as companies are looking for people that can keep their networks and data safe, and then there is the networking part,” he said.
Schneider exposes his students is to real-life, hands-on experiences. He tries to provide internships to area companies and institutions with significant networks that have to be maintained.
“I can only do so much in our lab,” Schneider said. “You don’t deal with customers or people saying ‘This isn’t working.’ It’s a controlled lab, so I know what’s wrong. I want them to get out there and learn to run a cable in the ceiling etc.”
Schneider arranged a trip to Great Bend High School to help his students see what a real network looks like from beginning to end.
“It is one of the bigger networks in Barton County,” he said. “We went from the core switch all the way down to a small access point, and we went down hallways and saw how the cables were ran. Then I asked them ‘How would you improve this?’”
Most recently, Schneider has incorporated smartphone and tablet repair.
“Phones and tablets are everywhere,” he said. “The most common thing that breaks is the screen, so if a student gets employed by a business that provides phones or tablets to their employees, it will be really helpful if they already know how to fix a screen and other issues. I want them to get so much more than computer skills, if they have more skills they are more valuable.”
The program offers several certifications as part of the curriculum including an A+ Certification, NetPlus Certification and Windows Certification. Schneider is also working on a developing a Juniper academy, which will prepare students to work on cutting-edge corporate level networking equipment.
While new technology is important to Schneider, he emphasized that understanding old equipment is equally important.  
“Most companies can’t afford new equipment all the time,” he said. “They will still have to deal with the older stuff and they have to be prepared for that. If they can effectively work on all types of equipment, they can be successful wherever they go.”
Schneider said one area of the curriculum growing in importance is the Internet security field. As hacker attacks increase, companies are seeking qualified professionals to help them defend their data as well as their clients’.
“The skills will be priceless,” he said. “Knowing how to protect the company you work for is extremely valuable. I really want to educate my students and make them comfortable in the security field.”
Students can pursue a 36 credit-hour certificate or a 64 credit-hour applied science associate degree.
For more information contact Schneider at or (620) 792-9393. For additional program information, visit