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News | July 21, 2017

Coding Their Way to Success!

While "java coding" has nothing to do with coffee, liking "java" in Puerto Rico has a lot to do with career opportunities and success.

This summer, Oscar Morales Gonzalez, NSA Texas Associate Language Authority, visited the GenCyber Camp at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. GenCyber camps are jointly funded by NSA and the National Science Foundation, and this camp used course materials developed through Department of Homeland Security grants. Along with a GenCyber contractor, Morales met with the Graduate School Dean and GenCyber Program Director Dr. Miriam Pabon and the founder and Director of the Center for Information Assurance for Research and Education Dr. Alfredo Cruz. They exchanged views on cyber education topics at major universities and colleges in Puerto Rico and Morales received a full overview of this year's GenCyber camp activities from the program coordinators.

This was the third "For Girls" iteration of the GenCyber Camp at the Polytechnic University. Thirty young women, ages 12 to 14, participated in this year's event. The goal of the program, as presented by the dean, was to provide a cybersecurity experience with the intent of fostering the next generation of cyber experts. The positive passion and commitment of the dean was evident throughout the day. The dean's approach was simple yet profound: "We want to change lives by providing the guidance and mentoring that many of these young women won't receive at home."

A prominent cyber-forensics professional gave a presentation about online security and captivated the young minds with true and easy-to-understand stories of situations involving fake internet personas. The campers also attended a class about the basics of cryptography, led by a graduate student. Despite the technical jargon, the relevant content and challenging exercises fascinated the participants.

Although Puerto Rican millennials have "adopted" English as their primary language, a phenomenon that was evident throughout the campus, Morales addressed the young women in Spanish. He talked about the importance of "languages," be they human or the computer kind. Morales praised the campers and the staff for their efforts and encouraged the young women to pursue their dreams. "It was inspiring to see diversity and inclusion in such a powerful way as these budding cyber professionals learned to code their way to success," he said.