We spend increasing amounts of time on the internet, but do we know how safe we are? Increasing cyber security will be a topic of study this summer for some local high school students. South Texas College will host its first ever Governor’s Summer Merit Program CyberCamp, meant to introduce students to career paths in cyber security.
The STC Pecan Campus will host the five-day camp on July 18-22, 2016 for 60 rising high school students (9th-11th graders) at no cost to the student. The STC’s High School Programs Department received a grant valued at $44,019 from the Texas Workforce Commission to make the camp accessible to students in the Rio Grande Valley.
“One of the main goals is that it’s an opportunity to increase awareness in the Valley,” Gonzalez said. “We are hoping that other schools can follow our lead and bring more awareness to cyber security and maybe the creation of programs that are competitive with the big cities.”
The camp will be focused on STEM, and will bring together students from surrounding school districts to participate and increase their knowledge in Information and Computer Technologies. Students will raise awareness in the STEM related careers through speakers and visits to institutions of higher education.
Career awareness speakers at the camp include Rich Roth, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for CTI Consulting, and a recognized expert in the area of threat and risk assessment and technical security; Code RGV co-founder Rene Ramirez; and Joe Voje who is now Chief Technology Officer Department of Technology for the City and County of San Francisco, California
“We felt that providing students in Hidalgo County with an opportunity for a five day camp would increase their knowledge and allow them to learn about opportunities in the field of computer science, specifically in cyber security,” said Rebecca De Leon, STC Director of Academies and High School Projects.
“The camp will also provide students with the opportunity to become aware of career opportunities in the STEM fields which we felt was beneficial for our population,” De Leon said.
STC will be utilizing a curriculum provided by the US Air Force Association’s (AFA) CyberPatriot program, a national youth cyber education program conceived by the AFA to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.
The program will include the basics of cyber security including weakness in computers and how to defend against them.
At the end of the event, there will be a National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The competition puts teams in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.
“They are presented with several virtual computers with a lot of flaws,” said Victor Gonzalez, STC Chief Information Security Officer. “The purpose of the competition is to see which team or student is able to fix those flaws. The one that finds the most flaws is the winner.”
Anyone interested in attending can call STC’s High School Projects Office (956) 872-2619. Space is limited.