There are thousands of unfilled cybersecurity jobs in California, and community colleges are working together to build pathways to fill them. Those pathways begin in middle and high school with cyber competitions and camps.
The summer of 2019 saw cyber camps grow in nearly every region of the state as more than 2,200 students learned about cybersecurity in a fun and engaging way. Here’s the rundown on the camps and activities in each region:
Far North Region
The Far North Region held five cyber camps this summer, four of which were brand new. About 60 students attended camps at Butte College, College of the Siskiyous, Mendocino College, College of the Redwoods, and Chico State.
Wendy Porter, ICT-DM Regional Director, said Mendocino’s camp sold out as soon as it was announced and Butte’s camp also sold out. She credits the California Mayors Cyber Cup with driving registrations at those camps.
Porter hopes the camps will lead to increased awareness about cybersecurity education as the school year begins.
“These camps are so important to bring awareness to tech education and the community college programs,” Porter said.
Not only do the high school students gain confidence to pursue additional education at their local community colleges, but their summer camp experiences help foster relationships between the high schools and the colleges to develop after school cyber teams and articulation programs.
“It is magical to watch how inspired the high school students are by interacting in these camps while they are on the community college campus,” Porter said.
Greater Sacramento Region
About 300 students attended 10 camps held throughout the Greater Sacramento Region this summer.
In addition to nine AFA Standard and Advanced CyberCamps, Regional Director Markus Geissler partnered with Yellow Circle Learning Platform, an organization based in Elk Grove that creates free virtual computer labs, to hold a CyberSkills camp that included cloud computing and Android™ programming skills. Yellow Circle helped promote the camp, which also helped drive registration for the region’s nine AFA CyberCamps.
Whenever possible, Geissler pairs community college faculty with middle and high school teachers to work as instructors and instructor assistants at each camp. He also brought in guest speakers, both in person and through Zoom.
No matter what direction the camps take, bringing students to campus is a way to begin building educational pathways that will lead to college and a career. Geissler is considering a project that would measure the relationship between camp attendance and community college enrollment.
“Getting high school and middle school kids onto a community college campus allows them to make a connection, and many therefore end up enrolling here after high school,” he said.
South Central Coast Region
The South Central Coast Region was home to the California Cyber Innovation Challenge, a statewide cybersecurity championship featuring 32 middle and high school teams. The event took place at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA Cybersecurity Institute which highlights a partnership between community and four-year colleges.
In addition, Cuesta College and Ventura High School held cyber camps that attracted nearly 200 students. Ventura High School started its program from scratch this year and hopes to expand it next year.
Moving forward, South Central Coast Regional Director Paula Hodge hopes to provide the region with an ambassador and a regional community college competition.
“I also have an agreement for the California Cyber Innovation Challenge to include community college students,” said Hodge. She is also working to have the design thinking for the competition to include students from Antelope Valley College, College of the Canyons and Cuesta College working with Cal Poly students.
Orange County Region
The Orange County Region held two major cyber events this summer: GenCyber Girls 2019 and cyber camps at Coastline College organized by the So Cal Cybersecurity Community College Consortium (SoCalCCCC).
GenCyberGirls brought 51 middle and high school girls to Coastline College July 15-19. The introductory camp emphasized the GenCyber cybersecurity concepts through hands-on exercises.
Hands-on activities included a mock crime scene with digital forensics challenge, PC hardware disassembly and reassembly, and introduction to coding using express Arduino boards.
“We discussed empowerment, cybersecurity careers, and cybersecurity education pathways that include cyber defense competitions and dual-credit courses at the high school level,” said Program Director and CIS/CST Department Chair Tobi West.
Presenters included four female FBI agents, a female NSA agent, industry professionals, college students, and a middle school student.
“The girls were encouraged to continue their learning in cybersecurity through multiple avenues, including starting a cybersecurity club and competition team at their school,” said West.
At the end of the camp they were given the Arduino kits to take home along with free Code.org accounts where they have access to coding activities that work with the kits. They will be issued access to the course in a free Canvas Learning environment where they will have access to all of the content from the camp and earn a digital badge for their participation.
A follow-up event will take place at Coastline College on September 14. Campers from the summer will be invited back to work on more advanced activities.
Through the planning and execution of this event, Coastline strengthened its relationships with NSA and FBI. “Coastline is now planning to work with the local FBI agents to develop a girls summer camp for 2020,” said West.
In addition to hosting GenCyberGirls, Coastline College also held beginner and advanced CyberPatriot camps that drew more than 150 students. Moving forward, the planning team hopes to incorporate IT Fundamentals Training to help students earn the CompTIA IT Fundamentals Certification.
The Bay Region has a well-established cyber camp program, through the Bay Area Community College Consortium (BACCC), that continued to grow this year. Program Coordinator Irvin Lemus reports that about 1,200 students attended 38 camps throughout the region.
The consortium is made up of 20 colleges across the region and also oversees the area’s participation in CyberPatriot and other competitions.
While the Bay Area program has already gained a lot of traction, it continues to evolve each summer. This year, Gerlinde Brady, Dean of Career Technical Education & Workforce Development at Cabrillo College, recruited faculty and staff to assist with camp logistics and provide information about the college admissions, counseling and other services to students and families.
“Cabrillo College’s CyberCamps were very well staffed, started at 8:00 a.m. to better accommodate working parents, and provided last-minute bus transportation to an alternative site due to a PG&E power outage,” said Project Director Denise Moss. “Gerlinde Brady has provided unwavering support for the camps in every way, from administrative and budgetary advocacy to front-line outreach and recruiting of students.”
For the first time this year, the region offered its own curriculum during the camps. It was well-received by camp attendees and created a framework that other colleges might adopt.
“I commend Irvin and his team for building a program that instilled a thirst for knowledge in most all of the students I encountered,” said Program Assistant Brianne Kodakari. “Irvin’s understanding of the material, how it all fits together, and the methods in which it was all presented had more than a few students raving to their parents about this camp.”
Lemus said Bay Area ICT-DM Regional Director Richard Grotegut makes the cyber camps and the rest of the consortium’s activities possible.
“Without Richard’s support, we would not have ventured into doing our own camp material and inspired students into the realms of Networking, Linux, Digital Forensics, Cryptography, Python, Web Application Exploitation, Log Management, and Capture the Flag competitions,” Lemus said. “These camps have benefited the host colleges into allowing their students and staff to showcase their talent to their future students and help them on the path after high school, into the colleges and the workforce.”
Inland Empire Region
College of the Desert and Moreno Valley College took the lead on cyber camps in the Inland Empire Region. College of the Desert held two camps with tracks for middle and high school students, while Moreno Valley College held two beginner and one advanced camp, along with two cyber coaching sessions. More than 250 students attended the region’s camps.
Student cyber campers at Moreno Valley College got to experience the college’s new cybersecurity lab and take part in the Coding Olympics and other STEAM activities. Melody Graveen and Donna Woods provided support and guidance to CIS Professor Kasey Nguyen, who coordinated the camps.
Nguyen plans to move the camp to June next summer to increase participation and add a small registration fee to reduce the no-show rate.
“Cyber camps and Coding Olympics help build community interest in STEAM education by exposing students to practical concepts of cybersecurity, coding and problem-solving,” Nguyen said. “These camps provide middle school and high school students the opportunities to explore skills for technical careers in a higher education environment, which promote Moreno Valley College’s CTE programs and success.”
College of the Desert introduced its campers to the Circuit Playground, which students built and took home with them at the end of the camp. That session came from a new faculty member who previously taught at University of California, San Diego.
Beyond technical knowledge, College of the Desert students also gained valuable leadership skills while they assisted with planning and executing the camps.
Aligned with the 2019 Cyber Summer Camps, parents, community citizens, and educators participated in a 10-hour Cyber Coaches Training and Integrated Workshops, during one of two different summer sessions offered. The training consisted of a “deep-dive” into Cyber-Guild’s Coaches Curriculum, NICE Framework Standards, Regional, Statewide, and National Workforce Labor Market Demands, and CyberPatriot Annual Competition Timeline to aid the coaches in their endeavors to develop cyber teams.
Donna Woods, Manager of Academic Relations for SynED/Cyber-Guild, facilitated the workshops which were hosted at Moreno Valley College and sponsored by Susanne Mata, Regional Director for ICT-DM in the Inland Empire/Desert through the Strong Workforce Program.
Coaches had an opportunity to engage with both beginner and advanced cyber camp participants, and experience cyber virtual software images used to train teams. Coaches attended from across the state representing: Fresno, Humboldt, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Temecula, and Victor Valley.
Upon successful completion of the workshops, the newly appointed Cyber Coaches received certificates from Cyber-Guild, CyberPatriot, and special recognition certificates from California Assemblymember Jose Medina, Chair of Higher Education.
The Central Region held one cyber camp that included 45 students from seven high schools in the Modesto area. Its focus was girls in technology.
ICT-DM Regional Director Dennis Mohle said planning is already underway for an advanced camp and a camp for college credit next summer. In addition, the Fresno Unified School District is going to plan a camp in the Fresno area next summer to compliment the camp in Modesto.