Over the past few years, demand for trained cybersecurity professionals has surged as two million information security jobs have gone unfilled. To fill this shortfall for trained cyber security professionals, Cal Poly Pomona is working with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to train the next generation of cyber defenders from local area high schools.
“GenCyber” is a partnership between the NSA and the NSF to help young people learn about cybersecurity and how skills in that area can pay off for them in the future. While the program, launched in 2014, focuses on raising awareness among students, camps for teachers are also available to help educators build curricula for their own schools.
“Cyber threats are real, constant, and always changing,” says Tina Ladabouche, NSA’s GenCyber Program Manager. “We are committed to helping the nation enhance cybersecurity education – providing opportunities for both teachers and students to learn more about an issue that affects all of us and will continue to do so in the future.”
The College of Science’s GenCyber program, a $100,000 funded NSF grant with support from the NSA, trained 50 high school students in the fields of cybersecurity and Internet of Things (the collection of smart appliances and devices in our lives). This pre-college program introduced students to information security, digital forensics, cyberattack defense, and personal online protection.
“We hope to inspire students to pursue the field of cybersecurity and computer science,” says Mohammad Husain, a computer science professor and director of the PolySec Cybersecurity Lab. “It’s important that we expose the next generation of students to cyber security knowledge, skills and ethics at an early age.”
All expenses for the week-long program, including tuition, and program fees are covered at no cost to GenCyber participants. This is the second year in a row that Cal Poly Pomona is offering the free program, and it’s been a hit with educators and students alike.
“What makes this camp so successful is how it connects abstract concepts to the real world. The students see the big picture and how cyber hacking affects our world,” said Brian D’Ambrosia-Donner, Coordinator of Educational Technology at Claremont Unified School District. “Mostly they were introduced to useful tools they can use to be part of the cyber security solution.”
Justine Navarro, a junior at Garey High School describes the material as college level.
“Everything I learned was very hands on and I enjoyed working with college students,” she says.