Training Tomorrow's Tech Talent at GenCyber

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Try opening up a paper without seeing a headline involving some sort of cybersecurity breach. Cyber attacks are doing nothing but increasing, yet a child can graduate from most high schools without even knowing how to turn on a computer.

The National Security Agency and National Science Foundation recognize the technology gap is not going to close itself, leading the pair to start funding GenCyber camps, week-long workshops established to expose high school students to cybersecurity and cyber problem-solving skills.

"It is important to seize the imagination of young people who have an interest in this field, showing them the challenges and opportunities that await them," said Steve LaFountain, dean of NSA's College of Cyber. "GenCyber camps help interested young people – from every corner of the United States and from diverse backgrounds – gain some incredible experience in this ever-changing field."

Throughout the summer, 29 universities and college campuses in 18 states put on GenCyber camps with Cal Poly Pomona’s event running from July 13 through 17. As the only GenCyber session in California open to high school faculty as well as students, attendees traveled from as far north as San Luis Obispo with several others venturing up from the southern-most parts of the state.

Offered at no cost to participants, GenCyber was held at Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Business Administration and sessions were led by faculty from the College of Business Administration and the College of Science instructing about the full gamut of the latest cybersecurity topics. Capping the week off were head-to-head sessions of Capture the Flag where teams competed for prizes.

Participants included coaches and students from RFK Ambassador Global Leadership School and Franklin High School, a pair of LAUSD institutions that were finalists in last year’s CyberPatriot national competition.

This is the second year the NSA and National Science Foundation offered the GenCyber program. The current plan is to expand to 200 camps by 2020. A full event gallery is available online.