What started as a small pilot last summer has grown into one of the most successful regional outreach efforts to date.
More than 625 middle and high school students from the Bay Region attended one 12 week-long cybersecurity camp offered this summer at colleges throughout the area. The camps are part of the effort to make California a leader in cybersecurity training and education to meet growing workforce demand.
The first camp took place last summer at Las Positas College, and things escalated quickly from there as more colleges realized the importance of the cybersecurity pathway.
“There’s a big need for cybersecurity professionals that we cannot fill — not just here, but nationwide,” said camp facilitator and Bay Region ICT-Digital Media Deputy Sector Navigator, Richard Grotegut. “It’s not something you can just learn in school. It takes a lot of practice. We want the kids to get started early.”
Camps were held from June 26-August 4 at the following community colleges:
- Las Positas College
- Cabrillo College
- Monterey Peninsula College
- Solano College
- Foothill College
- Gavilan College
- Santa Rosa Junior College
- San Jose City College
- Merritt College
- College of San Mateo
- Community College of San Francisco
- Diablo Valley College
Camps were based on CyberPatriot, a cybersecurity education program created by the U.S. Air Force Association (AFA) in 2014 and supported by companies including Boeing, Cisco, Facebook, and Northrop Grumman.
Ryan Blanchard, a 16-year-old student camp participant from Novato, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that the camp at Santa Rosa Junior College solidified his love for the hacking he’s been doing since he was 8.
“I didn’t realize that that was what I wanted to do at that time, but in middle school I realized I liked getting into things I’m not supposed to be in,” Blanchard told the Press Democrat. “I think it’s important that people understand the severity of (widespread hacking) because as we become more connected, there’s just more that people can do.”
Though some participants like Blanchard were well versed in hacking, previous experience was not required to participate.
The camp’s goal was to prepare students for cyber competitions that are held throughout the year and ultimately pursue a college education that will lead to a career in the cybersecurity field.
“The Cyber Defense Competitions are a year round activity. They can get involved at their schools like they would an athletic activity. The team meets and competes regularly,” Grotegut said.
For more information about California Community College cyber camps, contact Richard Grotegut at [email protected].