CSU approved GenCyber ​​grant to introduce cybersecurity to middle school students

August 30, 2022

Synovus Trade and Technology Center

A grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) will allow Columbus State University to increase awareness of career opportunities in cybersecurity and STEM fields to girls in grades six through eight. Funds from the NSA’s GenCyber ​​Grant program will benefit students in Columbus and surrounding communities while reinforcing the underrepresentation of women in these scientific fields.

The project, “Expanding Cybersecurity Awareness for Middle School Girls through GenCyber ​​Outreach, Games and Storytelling,” focuses on increasing cybersecurity awareness among middle school and college students with little or no cybersecurity knowledge. cyber. The program aims to broaden their interests in cybersecurity careers and knowledge, as well as foster their leadership skills as cybersecurity ambassadors.

CSU TSYS Center for Cybersecurity faculty members Dr Jianhua Yang, Dr Linqiang Ge and center director Patrick Aiken, as well as Chris Lovelock, a Harris County Science and Technology Center teacher, are involved in this project. Yang explained that focusing his support on female students will ultimately help build a diverse workforce while promoting the ethics of proper online etiquette among participating college students.

“There are fewer and fewer women interested in IT, and there are even fewer women working in the cybersecurity industry nationwide,” he said. “The goal of this project is to educate these girls about what cybersecurity is and how it impacts our daily lives.”

Students involved in this program will participate in a week-long summer camp in 2023. The camp will take place in CSU’s cyber range—a “live-fire” range where CSU students learn and industry professionals can also practice live-fire exercises that process over 50,000 versions of malware on an exact replica of a company’s network. Rangethe same equipment once used to train the Israel Defense Forces to protect the nation of Israel against cyberattacksis capable of simulating cyber incursions ranging from a simple web defacement to a full-fledged ransomware attack.

While working in CSU’s cyber range, participating students will learn the basics of cyber security, apply those basics and good online ethics and etiquette in their Internet browsing, and return to their schools to build on these basics in cybersecurity clubs.

Yang hopes the students will ultimately be ambassadors for science and technology fields among their middle and junior high school peers, as they influence them on the importance of cybersecurity awareness and tech careers.

We hope that through this program, some of our aspiring technology leaders will be inspired to further their education here in the Columbus State Cybersecurity Program,” Yang said. “It would certainly help advance women and minorities in the fields of science and technology.”

To learn more about CSU’s cybersecurity program, visit https://www.columbusstate.edu/turner/cybersecurity-center/.

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