Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) STEMworks™, in partnership with the University of Hawaii and Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training, presented a series of week-long summer GenCyber camps for students on Maui and statewide. Funding for the camps was provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Science Foundation. Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. These cyber-attacks are usually aimed at accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information, extorting money from users, or interrupting normal business practices.
“The GenCyber camp provided cybersecurity basics through interactive, hands-on-activities to expose middle- and high-school students to cybersecurity as an education and career pathway,” said Manda Tong, STEMworks™ Special Projects Coordinator. “Students learned what it means to be good digital citizens making ethical choices in the ever-changing technology world, and how to secure their personal information safely to their internet devices.”
Starting in 2014, the GenCyber program has currently grown to 150 camps nationwide. The NSA is developing curricula and lesson plans to cultivate the next generation of experts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Partnering with universities, public and private schools, and nonprofit organizations, they are broadening the pool of skilled cybersecurity professionals who can protect our nation from cyberattacks.
Iokepa Meno, Lokelani Intermediate STEM Teacher and VEX IQ Robotics mentor noted, “This camp showed our students the doorway to a rewarding and vital career for national security here and abroad. The students had the opportunity to meet the NSA Hawaii director and his staff, who explained in great detail how today each person needs to protect themselves against potential online threats. The students were also exposed to soft and hard skills that included programming Raspberry Pi devices, utilizing Micro Bits, and coding Ozobot robots, all while exploring and engaging GenCyber’s Ten Cybersecurity Principles.”
Maui High School senior Maya Hickman concluded, “Learning cybersecurity is important because in a time when internet and computer usage is at an all-time high, so is ignorance of the dangers behind these technologies. GenCyber Camps give students basic safety skills for using computers, help inspire an interest in cybersecurity, and teach STEM as a whole.”
High school and college students can apply for NSA work-study programs and internships at https://www.nsa.gov/resources/students-educators.
Manda Tong, STEMworks™ Special Projects Coordinator