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Tech Hosts Cybersecurity Program for Teachers

SOCORRO, N.M. July 7, 2015 – New Mexico Tech kicked off a new two-week learning opportunity for high school teachers on Monday, July 6. The program, called GenCyber, will help teachers gain knowledge and skills in the cybersecurity field and design curricula to train the next generation cybersecurity workforce.

Dr. Dongwan Shin is the principal investigator for the summer camp, along with co-PIs Dr. Lorie Liebrock and Dr. Subhasish Mazumdar.

“We’re very excited,” Dr. Shin said. “Most high school science teachers don’t have computer science knowledge. The goal of the summer camp is to help them understand the fundamentals of computer science and the latest issues in cyber security.”

During the first week, participants will get basic training in computer science, computational thinking and how to solve computational problems. The focus of the second week will be cyber security. Enrollees will have hands-on laboratories designed to reinforce computer science and cybersecurity learning components.

“Another exciting thing about the curriculum is that we’ll have a panel of experts on each Friday,” Dr. Shin said. “These teachers will get to learn about career opportunities in computer science and cyber security. They will share their career paths and experiences with the teachers.”

The expert panels will feature personnel from Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, FBI, Amazon, Intel, and CAaNES, and other companies. Shin said that more than half of the panelists are graduates of New Mexico Tech.

By providing instruction to teachers, middle and high school students will have a chance to learn about the latest technology in a college or university setting. The camps are offered at no cost to participants, thanks to funding from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation. 29 university and college campuses in 18 states are hosting GenCyber summer camps this year. Officials plan to expand from the current 43 camps to 200 by 2020.

Ian Brennan of the NSA said, “Teachers will learn how to make a curriculum to create their own summer program for students. We are eliminating a gap in cybersecurity literacy among young people. These opportunities would cost thousands of dollars.”

This is the second year of the GenCyber program, with 43 camps at 29 university campuses in 18 states. Brennan said the goal is to have a camp in every state. Each host school designs its own curriculum and designs the course.

Dr. Shin said Tech has a one-year grant for the camp, but potentially could continue to host similar camps. Reviewers from the NSA and NSF will visit Tech during the second week.

“I believe we have an excellent, exciting curriculum,” Shin said. “I think we’ll get positive reviews and this summer camp will happen next year as well. Our goal is to first focus on secondary school teachers, then expand to secondary school students.”

Brennan said the main purpose of funding camps across the nation is to improve computer literacy among young people.

“GenCyber, as a whole, is to have a student camp, but everybody is doing something different,” Brennan said. “A lot of the participating schools have been doing camps like this for years. They’ve just added the GenCyber logo because the NSA and NSF are funding the camps. At New Mexico Tech, teachers are coming there to learn to teach. Your faculty designed the program and attracted the people. That, for us, is the heart of it.”

– NMT –