About NEAT

User documentation

  • Last Updated: 05/28/2021

The NEAT (Network Engineering Apprenticeship Training) program is designed to introduce the fundamentals of network engineering, routing and switching, virtualization and storage to high school and college students. Students will gain considerable exposure to the Linux operating system, KVM hypervisor, essentials of IPv4 networking and basic Cisco routing and switching.

The first unit breaks down the essential curriculum into 5 units:

(1) Intro to Linux & IP concepts
(2) KVM hypervisor & Cisco hardware
(3) IP Routing - static and dynamic
(4) Firewalling
(5) Bonus Section is a Voice over IP Lab with phones and a PBX

Sections 2-5 are hands on; each unit consists of a lab part designed to reinforce concepts learned in the readings. Students will build and configure virtual machines that act as routers using BIRD opensource routing software. PFSENSE is used for learning about firewall security appliances. Students will also setup host software like web servers and ssh servers to simulate guests on the networks. Students will learn to use the cli (command line) via ssh and gain experience in monitoring and troubleshooting systems.

A Cisco router and Cisco switch are included as well. Each lab will integrate VLANs and bridging into the hypervisor stack so students will learn the basics of cisco switch configuration. Section 3 delves deeper into Cisco routing.

With the knowledge gained in this program, students will have a significant leg up in the workforce as well as preparation for advanced computer engineering college courses and research opportunities.

For more information about the program or questions regarding curriculum, email:
The NEATRack contact email:

Richweb CTO Jon Larsen:


NEAT program managers:
Emil Baggs:

Our recommendations for administering the course

While our curriculum allows for many different teaching styles, we have some recommendations for administering the course based on our experience.

Pacing & Scheduling

The NEAT curriculum is designed to take up a semester. As such, we have a course outline attached here: attachment:"NEAT Course Outline.pdf". The goal of the learning + lab model is to have the students learn the theory behind their labs in the reading and reinforce that theory with real-world experience in the labs. The labs allow the students to have a "lightbulb moment" where the theory they've been learning matches up with what they can see in real life.


If you have a very small class, students can work individually on NEAT, but in a moderately-sized class, students should work in groups of size 2-4. If groups are bigger than that, some students will be left out of the learning process. Each lab is broken up into sections, separated by headers with section titles. Students can switch off working at each section so that each student gets a chance to participate.


Each unit has both lab grading guides as well as quizzes. The quizzes are designed to be easy if the student paid attention in the lab and the content but difficult if they did not. The lab grading guides are designed to make it easy to pass if you gave your best effort but difficult to get a 100% on unless you completed the lab perfectly.