In the summer of 2017, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) hosted the first-ever NSA GenCyber Camp in the state of Wisconsin. The UWGB Computer Science (CS) program under the leadership of Dr. Ankur Chattopadhyay founded the inaugural GenCyber program in collaboration with the UWGB Division of Continuing Education, who were led by their Executive Director – Joy Ruzek, and the Director of Camps and Conferences – Jason Mathwig. UWGB were awarded a $100K grant from the NSA to run this maiden GenCyber Summer Camp in the state of Wisconsin. Over 100 middle-school students from all over Wisconsin, and even as far away as Kentucky, registered for this free cyber-educational camp. Dr. Chattopadhyay, the Lead Instructor and PI of this UWGB GenCyber program, was supported by the CIO of the Capital Credit Union Bank, Joel Williquette, who also served the program as a camp instructor.
The unique nature of this camp generated interests of the local media as evident from the following published articles:
Over the course of this inaugural GenCyber camp, a team of several UWGB CS majors played a pivotal role as the camp’s supporting instructional staff members and taught classes in varying topics of computing security, including networking concepts, secure coding, cryptography, privacy, biometrics and machine learning, and even hacking. Guest speakers from the local IT security industry (like Synercomm), NSA and FBI visited this GenCyber camp to speak to the young participants about careers and jobs in cyber security. The week-long summer camp culminated in an off-line capture the flag session, where students competed in teams in a trivia game using the knowledge they had gained throughout the camp.
At the start and end of the camp, students were asked if they were interested in a career in computing, specifically in cyber-security. The overwhelming response received from the participants is an excellent demonstration of how hands-on boot-camp based exposure to a specialized computing topic, like cyber-security, can engage and motivate middle-school youth towards nurturing an interest in a field that is in serious need of young talent nationwide. Many middle-school students actually deem cyber-education as a hi-tech field beyond their understandings, and this GenCyber camp proved a lot of them wrong in the process of winning their hearts and imaginations.
The success of this camp can be gauged by the emails and phone calls already received by UWGB in regard to hosting the next cyber-security boot camp in 2018. K-12 students, who were unable to attend the UWGB GenCyber camp this summer, are hopeful to have an opportunity in near future, and many of those, who did attend, are eager to return!
UWGB is currently in the process of planning further K-12 cyber-educational camps in 2018. Bravo to all the UWGB faculty, students and staff members, who were involved in this GenCyber camp!
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