"GenCyber" is a new partnership between the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation to help young people learn about cybersecurity and how skills in that area can pay off for them in the future.
To that end, a series of GenCyber summer camps will be held on 29 university campuses in 18 states this year - exposing largely middle and high-school students to subject matter and cyber problem-solving that would help prepare them for related coursework in college. The camps, some of which are overnight, are free for participants because of funding from the federal partnership. California, South Dakota, Alaska, New York, Hawaii, and Mississippi are among the sites. The goal is to expand the program from the current 43 camps to 200 by 2020.
Educating the next generation of cybersecurity experts is a priority for leaders in both the public and private sectors. Cyber threats are only growing, and improving defenses to better protect the nation is a must in this digital era.
"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."
"High standards and the issue of compliance are equally important," said LaFountain, whose office reviews and approves each camp's cyber curriculum.
"In addition to preparing young people to excel in tomorrow's workforce, we are teaching students the ethics of security so they learn how to be better citizens in cyberspace," he said.
While the program, launched in 2014, focuses on raising awareness among students, camps for teachers are also available to help educators build curricula for their own schools.
Because strengthening U.S. cybersecurity is a team sport, the academic community also plays a key role in the GenCyber effort. Most of the universities that host the camps are Centers of Academic Excellence - a separate initiative that NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security oversee for more than 190 U.S. institutions of higher learning.
More information about GenCyber, including links to universities' camp websites, is available online at www.gen-cyber.info.