Cyber Security Summer Boot Camp Supports Teachers to Prepare High School Students for Careers in Cyber Security

Cyber Security Boot Camp for Teachers created to support and inspire high school teachers to guide their students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) competitions.

This summer, Red Bank Regional (RBR) students and Cyber-Security Forensic  2011 contest winners Alec Jasanovsky, Neptune City, Ryan McVeety, Little Silver, and Michael Terpak, Union Beach, were invited to speak to a group of high school teachers at NYU-Poly in Brooklyn, NY.  T

heir teacher, Mandy Galante, was among those assembled for the first Cyber Security Boot Camp for Teachers created to support and inspire high school teachers to guide their students in the NYU-Poly Cyber Forensic and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) competitions. 

The area of cyber security has become increasingly vital to our country’s national defense and prosperity. The camp was organized by professors Nasir Memon, Vikram Kapila and Ramish Karri of the Polytechnic Institute of NYU (NYU-Poly) through a grant they won from the National Science Foundation in collaboration with CUNY College of Technology. 

RBR senior Alec Jasanovsky remarks of the competitions, “I really liked it since it gave me more hands-on experience in the field and an idea of what I could be doing in the future.”

Michael Terpak, as a senior, told the teachers that in order for their students to excel in cyber security classes they needed to enter as many competitions as possible.  

He stated of his high school cyber security class, “I love the program, it provided me with so many opportunities and the teachers are great. It was less hard core studying and more learning as you go. It has been the most positive experience for me so far (in high school.)” 

RBR offers a unique and superior cyber security program under Mrs. Galante’s tutelage which is part of RBR’s Academy of Information   Technology (AOIT.) This year the course will carry college credit certification in affiliation with the University of Syracuse. RBR AOIT students routinely win such STEM competitions.

The purpose of the NYU-Poly competitions is to spread this type of curriculum throughout the nation. The program takes place in the fall with preliminary rounds starting in September and ending in a final competition at NYU-Poly in Brooklyn
in November. College and graduate competitions also take place during that NYU
Poly’s Cyber Security Awareness Week.  However, the organizers noticed that a much smaller rate of high school teams actually make it to the final rounds from the original registration numbers.

Recognizing that teachers need support in this new frontier, the NYU-Poly team sought the grant to establish the cyber boot camp in NYC during one week in the summer. All all-expenses are paid for participants. The grant also covers a second boot camp for next year.

Twenty-six teachers from around the country convened for the first boot camp. The sessions were marked with great collaboration and teamwork beginning in the early morning and continuing late into the evenings. Participants then retired to their hotel room with homework to prepare for the next day’s activities. Each teacher that attended agreed to field a team for the following year’s competition. Ten of the teachers, including Mandy Galante, pledged to field a girls’ team in order to stimulate the interest in STEM subjects in female students. Mrs. Galante explains that high school girls tend to self-select out of STEM courses of study in high school and college.

Last year, RBR sent one of three teams that included a female student to the competition. Emily Wicki of Union Beach was part of RBR’s first -place Team Zettabytes.  Emily is expected to work with other RBR female students next year
joining a boys’ team in the fall competition. 

Mandy Galante commented, “The camp was a great experience and I think they did a good job of inspiring a lot of teachers across the pond.” She added, “The National Science Foundation is interested in pushing this type of curriculum down to the high school to inspire more kids to make these types of career choices in college. It is working well for my students.”

Indeed it is, six of her students who made it to the final rounds last year were all given early acceptances to NYU with pledged scholarships ranging from $7 to $14,000 per year. RBR also won a $2500 prize for the first place finish. Additionally, students who study this coursework can expect to write their ticket as the government and private firms clamor for employees with this skill set.

In May of 2011, the White House published a fact sheet entitled,Cyber Security
Legislative Proposal.  Its conclusion states, “Our Nation is at risk. The cyber security vulnerabilities in our government and critical infrastructure are a risk to national security, public safety, and economic prosperity. The Administration has responded to Congress’ call for input on the cyber security legislation that our Nation needs, and we look forward to engaging with Congress as they move forward on this issue.”

 A member of the President’s commission, Tom Kellermann, informed the Poly-NYU professors that the government needs to fill 10,000 cyber security positions shortly, with the private sector requirements four times that much and growing.

Mandy Galante comments, “They (corporations and government) fight over these kids and some employ them before they even graduate college.”

That is a pretty appealing career path in an environment where young graduates currently face 20% of under or unemployment in most other fields.

 In addition to its career opportunities, competitions like NYU-Poly Forensic Challenges hope to turn on kids to these career paths because they can be very rewarding and a lot of fun. 

RBR senior Ryan McVeety, who also spent time in Rutgers University this summer at New Jersey’s prestigious high-tech Governor’s School program, was so turned on to cyber security through his high school program stating, “RBR's Cyber Security program is amazing. …The course itself is jam-packed with labs and hands-on work, which really got me excited for cyber security as a career.” He adds, “I enjoyed the class, so much so that I did research of my own outside of school. …The course is a great introduction to cyber security, and I encourage all who have to opportunity to take it.”

In NYU-Poly is hoping that enthusiasm will be contagious.

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