The Sky Is Limitless for Astrophotographer and NetRiders Winner The Sky Is Limitless for Astrophotographer and NetRiders Winner

Hernán Antonio Stockebrand Cortés, a 2012 NetRiders winner and telecommunications engineering student at Technological University of Chile INACAP, is also an award-winning night sky photographer.

Finding Direction in the Stars

Hernán’s journey into the networking world was inspired by his interest in astronomy.

After visiting an astronomical observatory near his city of La Serena, Chile, Hernán recognized the crucial role networks play in mapping astronomical data.

Motivated by a desire to capture and share images of the night sky, Hernán purchased a DSLR camera and completed photography courses. In an effort to bridge his interests in astrophotography and technology, he found a Cisco Academy in his city and decided to study networking while pursuing a telecommunications engineering degree.

Words of Encouragement

Hernán credits much of his success at NetRiders to the support of his instructor, Jorge Dupeyron. “As a student, it’s hard to know how much we know about networking,” says Hernán, “but my instructor would tell me: ‘If Jorge Barros (the 2011 NetRiders winner from the same academy) won, why don’t you? You must believe in yourself.’”

His accomplishments at NetRiders earned Hernán a study trip to Cisco headquarters in San Jose. “My greatest achievement so far was being one of the winners of the Cisco NetRiders competition and traveling to the United States, visiting the Cisco offices, and meeting the other winners from around the world,” says Hernán. “The experience I gained; learning more about how networks work, surrounded by different cultures…I will remember it forever.”

Sky Watching

In addition to his NetRiders success, Hernán earned the Astrophotographer of the Year award at the Chile National Conference of Astrophotography. His award included a stay at the Very Large Telescope, where he was able to take some incredible night photos.

Hernán’s photos have been featured in newspapers, magazines, and televised interviews. To see examples of his work, visit

When asked how he balances his university studies and passion for astrophotography, Hernán says: “One of my rules is that weekends are for me, not for study. I have the fortune to live in a city that is very close to observatories, so after only one hour of traveling to the mountains, I can get an incredible clear night sky away from light pollution.”

How to Succeed

Hernán has helpful words of advice for other students: “You don’t need to be a genius to be successful in the networking world. All you need is to study hard and lots of practice.”

According to Hernán, the most important thing is to develop a practical understanding of the coursework, and the best way to do so is by completing the labs and creating and solving new topologies. “Always do more than your instructor requests,” he advises. “In the networking world, practice is the key.”

Hernán is preparing for his CCNA certification exam, and plans to become a NetAcad instructor. His long term goal is to find a networking job at an observatory, so he can combine his two passions in one workplace.

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