Students participate in computer networking courses during high school and while in college. Computer networking projects give students hands-on experience to learn and digest the course materials being taught. These school projects also give students practical experience, especially for those who plan to continue their careers within the field. Many suitable project ideas exist, including having students plan for the design or security measures of a computer network.
Making Ethernet Cable
A computer networking project making Ethernet cable--used for connecting local area networks (LANs)--can be a school project for high school or college students. With this project, students form groups of three or four and receive materials from the instructor to make the Ethernet cable correctly. Materials needed for this project include the Category-5 (Cat5) twisted-pair cable, RJ-45 modular plugs and a crimping tool. Students untwist the Cat-5 cable, arrange the colors in the proper order, crimp the wires and insert them into the modular plugs. After making the cable, the instructor tests the Ethernet cable in a testing device or the students can test the cable out by connecting it to a computer that is already set up on a local area network.
Network design projects allow students to use their creativity when working with computer networks. With these projects, the instructor hands out a list of scenarios that require them to design a computer network. Scenarios could include a business office that needs to setup a LAN, a bank with a branch office that needs Internet connection and the set-up of a wide area network (WAN) or a city that wants to implement a metropolitan area network (MAN) for its residents. Students design the network and make a presentation out of the design, explaining the hardware (i.e. servers, VPN routers, workstations), connection methods (i.e. Ethernet, fiber-optic, etc) and software needed to set up and manage the computer network. Students can use free network diagram programs such as SmartDraw, Gliffy and Edraw Soft to make a graphical representations of networks.
A computer networking project which students can take on involves network security. In this type of project, instructors hand out scenarios to groups of students of already-designed computer networks. Students review the network design and look for both internal and external "holes" in security, which leaves the network vulnerable to intruders and outsiders. The groups of students use presentation and network diagram software tools to map out and explain additional steps that need to be taken to improve security--both internal and external--on the network. Solutions for improving network security may include adding firewall devices, implementing and configuring network management software and changing network infrastructure and connection methods.
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