Last week, Cisco’s Research Triangle Park (RTP), NC and San Jose, CA campuses hosted 60 students for the CyberCamp Summer Camp 2016 – a special cybersecurity camp sponsored by CyberPatriot, the Air Force Association’s national youth cyber education program. In its second year, CyberCamp aims to inspire local students towards education and careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.
This year’s CyberCamp provided young men and women from local middle and high schools – who had little to no experience with computers or cybersecurity – the opportunity to further explore the field in an exciting and engaging way.
Over a five-day period, students completed 20 hours of curriculum and participated in practical, hands-on activities that gave them exposure to machines that ran on Windows and Linux platforms, as well as the ability to analyze risk assessments and vulnerabilities on these machines. The camp ended with mock competition similar to the competitions that other students across the country are able to compete in leading up to the CyberPatriot National Finals held each year in Washington, D.C.
Throughout the week, students were introduced to many concepts found in this tech field, including an overview of cybersecurity and why it is important, what is a virus and malware, how to safely use social media and the Internet, and how to assess risks on computer operating systems.
During the afternoon sessions, students were able to take a tours of the Cisco Tactical Operations Networking Emergency Response Vehicle (NERV truck) and Technical Assistance Center (TAC labs), interact with robots, use Raspberry Pi computer programming, hear from the Talos team and learn about Cisco’s role in WiFi security for the Rio Olympics.
John Luber, Manager of Cisco’s Firewall TAC team and CyberCamp RTP Site Host, was pleased to see the students getting excited about technology, and more specifically, cybersecurity.
“An opportunity like CyberCamp is an outstanding way to get young people in the community excited not only about tech and what they can do in their careers, but also learn some sound fundamentals on what to and what not to do to keep themselves and family secure while on the internet,” he said. “Day 1 teaches about social media, what to post/not to post, how the post can be perceived negatively and affect them later on in life, and how cyber predators can use this information as well. These are good life skills to have in general.”
Rob Couture, a Cisco TAC engineer and CyberCamp RTP volunteer believes the CyberCamp is a great learning experience for the students.
“Not only are the students exposed to Cisco and our technology, but they also got the opportunity learn the fundamentals of securing Windows and Linux operation systems and the ability to look into other technologies that they may not have known much about before this camp,” Couture said. “The students also got the chance to work closely with Cisco employee volunteers, who provided first-hand experience and insight to what it’s like to work at a major technology company.”
Cisco has made building a pipeline of diverse students prepared to enter the STEM field a top priority for nearly two-decades. Cisco is at the forefront of providing opportunities to those who would not otherwise be exposed to the STEM industry. Through mentoring, IT training, and support for schools and nonprofits, Cisco has a proud history of investing in programs to prepare a diverse generation of young people for careers in STEM.
As part of Cisco’s US2020 efforts, Cisco has committed to having 20% of our US employees provide STEM mentoring to students by the year 2020. Over 25 Cisco employees and TAC engineers volunteered at both Cisco locations last week to work hands-on with students and teach them the CyberPatriot curriculum throughout the week. Cisco employee volunteers and instructors benefited from being able to interact with the students and share their knowledge in tech with them.
“The program is probably one of the unique opportunities that Cisco employees have to pass on their passion for technology and create a generation of students who will come and take their places in the future. We are stimulating their minds to get them learning,” says Mike Hammon, CyberPartriot Cisco Lead. “This is an opportunity to teach students through mentoring and keeping the CyberPatriots program alive while using our skill sets. Students come out from the program with Cisco certifications, they get accepted into colleges of their choice, and ultimately have a leg up into finding a job.
Cisco has a longstanding partnership with CyberPatriot and works year-round with the organization to inspire hundreds of young people from across the country to learn about the opportunities that the technology sector holds for their future through hands-on exposure to the latest technology and engagement with Cisco employee volunteers. Since its creation in 2009, CyberPatriot has grown by more than 20 percent each year, with 2,175 teams registering for the competition this year.
For more information about Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot Program click here.