Last week, 60 middle and high school students gathered at Cisco campuses in Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC and Richardson, TX for a special cybersecurity camp being offered for the first time by CyberPatriot, the Air Force Association’s national youth cyber education program.
The camp gave students who had little to no cybersecurity experience an opportunity to learn more about cybersecurity and how to safely use the Internet. The students completed the 20-hour curriculum over four days, and on the fifth day, took part in a mock competition similar to the one held at the CyberPatriot National Finals each year in Washington, D.C. It is our hope that this experience will inspire these students to join the CyberPatriot program and ultimately pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and careers. A total of 24 CyberPatriot Camps were offered across the country.
As part of Cisco’s US2020 efforts, technical assistance center (TAC) engineers volunteered at both Cisco locations to work with students and teach them the CyberPatriot curriculum throughout the week. Cisco is committed to having 20 percent of our workforce contribute 20 hours or more per year to STEM mentoring by 2020, and their participation is helping us fulfill that goal. Employees from Cisco Community Relations also filled the afternoon of each day with tours of labs, panel discussions, speed mentoring, TelePresence demos and more.
Kevin Klous, a TAC engineer & CyberPatriot RTP camp instructor, believes the week-long cybersecurity camp is an excellent resource for preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. “As the Internet of Everything (IoE) grows larger and larger, it is going to be increasingly important that we focus on security as a foundational principle of everything related to technology,” he said. “Because of this need, there will be a growing demand for talented, security-conscious people in the technology space in the years to come.”
Since it’s creation in 2009, CyberPatriot has grown by more than 20 percent each year, with 2,175 teams registering for the competition this year. Students like Richard Parker and Kevin Schulmeister, who joined CyberPatriot in high school and founded their own technology businesses after graduating, gained valuable skills while securing networks and learning more about cybersecurity during the competition.
“By investing in these students at such a young age, Cisco is helping to develop talent here at home that will help not only Cisco but the entire nation to remain competitive in that space,” Klous said. “This is important not only from an economic standpoint, but also for issues like national security as it’s likely that some of these students may go into cybersecurity for purposes of national defense, as that is becoming more of a challenge in this increasingly connected world.”
Cisco is committed to preparing young people around the world with the skills they’ll need to thrive in the increasingly connected economy, and last week’s CyberPatriot camp is an integral part of those efforts. With the help of CyberPatriot, we’re ensuring students learn about cybersecurity and IT at an early age and discover the new careers being created by the Internet of Everything.