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Ballet, Cybersecurity and a Little Bit of NASA

Grab a cup of coffee, or your favorite caffeinated beverage, and get ready to meet an Intivix employee who never stops learning, growing, or sharing his knowledge, Dante Alabastro. Dante is a Help Desk Engineer at Intivix and has been with us for almost a yearWithin this role, he focuses on answering client questions, which come in the form of a phone call, email or an in-person question during his on-site visits. In other words, he’s helping a variety of clients in a variety of ways, which truly makes sense for Dante. 

Although Dante is a West Coast native, he spent nearly four years on the East Coast as a dancer. More specifically, a ballet dancer. His love of dancing began early in elementary school and continued through high school. Post high school is when the move to New York took place and he danced for a student company, the former Joffrey Ballet (the formal company is now in Chicago). During the two years with this student company, Dante performed in every state along the East Coast from Massachusetts to Florida, as well as China and Canada. He then moved on to the Washington Ballet in Washington DC and had the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center, and eventually moved back to San Francisco and joined a local company for a couple of years before they closed.  

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Keeping a dancer schedule is not easyfrankly, it is pretty demanding, but it’s something that Dante enjoyed, and would be interested in picking up again if the time is right. In the meantime, he stays busy by attending college full time. And yes, that is in addition to his full-time position at Intivix! He is currently attending City College of San Francisco and is studying computer networking/information technology, with an emphasis on cybersecurity. 

Not Your Average Help Desk Engineer 

Computers, science, and technology have always been an interest of his and actually led him to NASA prior to his role at Intivix. His trip to NASA started with a 5-week online course at a community college. The course, led by NASA engineers and scientists, focused on the history of NASA, future plans of getting astronauts on Mars, and how the organization studies things like the climate on Earth to help support farmers. The course culminated with a 15-page paper on how NASA’s current habitation modules on the International Space Station could be modified for future use on Mars, including things like discussing the air filtration systems and growing food in space to help sustain the astronauts on their long “flight” to Mars. Because of Dante’s high marks in the course, he was invited to a three-day on-site session at NASA. During this session, he worked with other team members to build a mock Mars-rover and entered it into a competition during which the rover needed to pick-up asteroids and rock samples autonomously, as well as other relevant tasks. In addition, the team that Dante was part of the presented ideas and their project to the board. He also had the opportunity to come back to NASA at a later date to see NASA team members working and building a satellite. 

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You may think that Dante would take a slight break after all of this, but no, that’s not his style. In addition to his full-time role at Intivix, and attending City College of San Francisco full-time, he also is part of a Collegiate Hacking team. The team participates in local hacking competitions, facing other big-name colleges and universities in the area. During these competitions, teams are given a scenario and are asked to do their best to hack into a specific system, based on the scenario. And the team is doing pretty well! They took second place at the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (WRCCDC) in March and won the California Mayors Cyber Cup in February. But not to worry, Dante sees these hacking competitions as a way to learn more about what frustrates hackers, and how to see flaws in your own systems, with the goal of fixing them, which is great for our Intivix clients. 

Dante also supports Intivix by attending career fairs on our behalf. Since he knows firsthand what it is like to balance college and a full-time position as an IT consultant, he is able to share his insights with other students looking to crack their way in as well. He shares his insights on his role and even helps students apply for positions.  

His desire to share knowledge doesn’t stop there. He’s also keen to recommend that it’s important to continue to learn about technology no matter what your role. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way. But if you do get stuck, know that Dante is on the other end of the phone or email, ready to help. 

See what we mean about needing some type of caffeinated beverage? Dante’s background is jam-packed, and a little unexpected. And, we are thrilled that he’s on-board. Oh, and in case you were curious about the hacking competitions, be sure to read the recent article in the San Francisco Weekly that covers the recent competitions, and how the City College program is structured.