How Things Work

Joe DeLeone built his first computer at the age of 12. He's now a Professor of Physics and Cybersecurity at SUNY CCC.

A chemistry set, a 10 year old, and a fascination for figuring out how things worked – what could go wrong?

Not long after Joe DeLeone destroyed his parent’s yard with his new chemistry set, they took him to Chemung Electronics with the hopes of finding a new hobby. It was here Joe saw computers for the first time.

“I remember asking the owners what I could do with the computers,” said Joe, SUNY CCC Professor of Physics and Cybersecurity. “Everyone was talking about the importance of learning how to type, but I wanted to learn how to program.”

Just two years later Joe built his first computer at the age of 12. It was an Altair 8800 covered in switches and lights he had soldered together – burning his hands in the process.

“It looked nothing like a computer,” said the Elmira, N.Y native. “But building that Altair is what really got me hooked on electronics for good.”

Joe’s love for electronics took him to Clarkson University, where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He became an Instructor of Physics at SUNY CCC in 1993 and has taught a wide array of classes since, including system configuration, operating systems, and his favorite: cybersecurity.

“Cybersecurity is a really fun class because we get to do all of the things you see on television or read about,” said Joe. “We figure out how to do the impossible and prove people wrong.”

Joe incorporates various forms of technology into all of his classes at SUNY CCC, especially if it means getting to use his 3D printer. Joe has created 3D printed parts for his kitchen faucet at home, as well as test equipment for his students. He even created a 3D printed attendance box that allows students to scan their student ID’s upon entering the class.

“I 3D printed the case and added a barcode scanner, so now students can scan their ID’s when they walk into my class and it keeps a log of their attendance,” said Joe. “It has eliminated the use of paper and it leverages the things they see every day.”

When Joe isn’t teaching he enjoys playing video games with his sons. Though Joe considers himself a “retro-gamer” and owns nearly 30 game systems, his sons prefer he plays Fallout 76 with them on their Xbox 1.

“I have game systems that came out before the original Nintendo,” said Joe. “My kids do enjoy those, but they’d rather beat me at the modern games.”

Joe is looking forward to the next few years at SUNY CCC and growing the cybersecurity program he loves to teach.