Middle school students learn online safety during UWGB GenCyber Camp

Published: Jul. 31, 2017 at 4:45 PM CDT
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This week the University of Wisconsin Green Bay is teaming up with the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency for a GenCyber Camp.

The effort is to get middle school students interested in the field of cyber security.

Lead faculty for the GenCyber camp, Dr. Ankur Chattopadhyay says there is a shortage of cyber security professionals in the country.

He hopes this camp will get the students excited about the field.

"I think it's a very well-known fact that we are hugely short of the demand of the workforce when it comes to cyber security, and if we can contribute to that even a little bit, which is what we’re trying to do with this camp, that would be great for the state of Wisconsin," says Dr. Chattopadhyay.

Students are learning about software, data science, social media safety and privacy. They will even get to do a live hacking session.

Twelve-year-old Nikko Ittoni does his own programming and wants to up his security.

"I think I'll learn how to strengthen the protection on my programming because a lot of things have weak programming and then you can easily hack in and stuff, I might also learn a little bit more programming knowledge," said Ittoni.

The UWGB GenCyber Camp is the first GenCyber Camp to be implemented in the state, 90 students from grades 7 through 9th are participating and learning online safety at no cost. Funding is provided by the NSA and the NSF.

Dr. Chattopadhyay says it's important to introduce cyber security at a young age, since the middle school students are already using smart phones, tablets and computers.

"My hope is that they will be a little bit more aware, a little bit more educated and more importantly what I think we all want is for them to get excited about a career in cyber security and for that matter in computing as well," Dr. Chattopadhyay says.

"As I've gotten older I've had a lot of different ideas of what I wanted to be when I grow up and now doing this has made me a lot more interested in computer stuff, and it's so cool, it's a really great experience for me," said Devon Herzog, a 7th grade camp participant.