GenCyber Hawaiʻi is providing enrichment opportunities to train the youngest generation of cybersecurity professionals and teachers through its summer camps. This year, 147 students and 195 teachers participated in GenCyber Hawaiʻi high school and middle school camps on Oʻahu, Maui County, Hawaiʻi Island and Kauaʻi that began on June 5 at Honolulu Community College.
Participants learned about cyber hygiene, networking, basic forensics and classical and modern cryptographic systems. They also learned about and implemented the stages of a cyber attack and how to control a robotic car using computer code.
This year the Oʻahu camp incorporated the similarities between voyaging and cybersecurity such as planning, charting a course into the unknown, observing the environment (e.g., wind, birds, sky), looking for anomalies, contingency planning and anticipating things that cannot be seen.
These skills were put to the test in a grand challenge scavenger hunt that incorporated coded clues that participants had to solve using cybersecurity concepts, tools and skills learned during the week with a wayfinding focus in honor of the homecoming of the Hōkūleʻa from her World Wide Voyage.
During the closing ceremony, participants and their families heard from National Security Agency Vice Commander Anastasia Borichevsky, and University of Hawaiʻi Vice President for Information Technology/CIO Garret Yoshimi on the strategic importance on cultivating cybersecurity professionals in Hawaiʻi. There was also a mini career fair where parents and students learned more about career opportunities in the cybersecurity industry.
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Growing the next generation
The primary purpose of the GenCyber program is to grow the next generation of cybersecurity experts in the state and nation. The goals of GenCyber are to increase interest in cybersecurity careers and diversity in the cybersecurity workforce and to help all students understand correct and safe on-line behavior and improve teaching methods for delivering cybersecurity content for K–12 curricula.
This is GenCyber Hawaiʻi’s third year in existence and is on track to complete 18 teacher camps representing 549 teachers trained and 11 student camps representing 390 students trained across the state. Some GenCyber student completers have gone on to college to pursue computer science and cybersecurity programs, and secured internships in cybersecurity.
The GenCyber program is a vital component of Hawaiʻi’s Cybersecurity Education and Workforce Development Strategic plan which directly supports the Hawaiʻi Graduation Initiative of the Strategic Directions of the University of Hawaiʻi.
The Cybersecurity Education Workforce Development Strategic plan is focused on:
- Promoting a deeper awareness and understanding of cyber threats specific to Hawaiʻi and ensuring that students are job ready upon graduation and successful in securing cybersecurity jobs in Hawaiʻi.
- Developing a clear education and workforce pathway to cyber and cybersecurity professions and the state’s vision of expanding computer science for all in our Department of Education school system for elementary, middle and high school students.
- Increasing the number of high school students who earn college credit in computer science and cybersecurity.
- Increasing professional development opportunities for teachers in computer science and cybersecurity.