The future of cybersecurity may lay in part in the hands of 23 Bay Area high school students participating in a six-week campus cybersecurity course, called CYBEAR, which aims to prepare students for careers in government and private industry.
The initiative, created by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency, will finish its second year at UC Berkeley on Friday. The course was run by the campus and was offered for free to participants with outside funding from the GenCyber initiative — a nationwide program on cybersecurity.
“The CYBEAR summer camp exposes students to computer science and engineering concepts, increases their understanding of cyber-based technology, and highlights paths of study that can lead to privacy and security careers,” said Carolyn Winter, a program manager in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, in an email.
During the program, students learn basic computer science principles, methods and uses for programming in Python and best practices for security and privacy in today’s digital world, according to GenCyber’s website.
The aim is to help students explore their own digital footprint and cyber-physical infrastructures — a mechanism controlled or monitored by computer-based algorithms. As part of the program, students engage in activities including a trip to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, a tour of the FBI offices in San Francisco and an international cyber warfare simulation.
To help them learn to program and work with hardware, the students also built a model “Smart Oakland” using Lego blocks and small and inexpensive computer chipboards.
According to its website, GenCyber’s vision for the program is to be part of the solution to the nation’s shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals. It wishes to ensure that enough young people are inspired to direct their talents into cybersecurity as the world becomes more reliant on cyber-based technology.
“(The program) responds to an identified need in the U.S. to increase knowledge and awareness of cybersecurity, as well as a need for instruction that specifically addresses cybersecurity,” Winter said. “The students seem to be enjoying the program.”
Cybersecurity skills are necessary for personal and professional needs, including in key industries such as transportation, power and others that are critical to the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens, according to the website.