TWU hosts CyberCamp for area high school students
AFA instructor Leslie Walczak teaches at TWU's Cybercamp.
Photo credit: Amanda Simpson
DENTON — National experts from the Air Force Association (AFA) are teaching 18 North Texas high school students about online security and cyber safety at a CyberCamp hosted by Texas Woman’s University this week (July 13-17.)
TWU and the AFA piloted the CyberCamp last year, with TWU being the first university in the nation to host the camp. It has expanded to 24 sites this year, but instructors from the AFA are teaching only at two camps.
“We just came from teaching cyber security at Facebook’s national headquarters in California and then traveled to Denton to teach these campers at Texas Woman’s University,” said Leslie Walczak, an instructor with the AFA.
According to Walczak, the other camps in the U.S. are using instructional materials provided by the AFA with volunteers or staff from each site teaching at the camp.
“Being among only two sites in the nation getting this hands-on instruction from the AFA shows what a valuable partner it views TWU in providing this instruction to campers,” said Jian Zhang, TWU associate professor of mathematics and computer sciences and coordinator of the camp.
Zhang says recent cyber security attacks on the federal government and large companies such as Sony and Target show the significance of TWU’s CyberCamp.
“We want participants in the camp to become more aware of cyber security and of the techniques that they can use to protect themselves online,” Zhang said. “These are skills we all can benefit from, but with teenagers, it is even more important.”
Zhang also believes that if you can connect the importance of cyber security to the daily lives of teenagers and the field’s real-life implications, it may spur interest in the field for future study.
“Our hope is that as a result of the camp, the student participants – especially the girls – will consider pursing careers in the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] fields,” Zhang said.
Walczak adds, “Knowing cyber security gives you an edge no matter what you do. Any field you go into, you will use a computer, but what can set you apart is your cyber security knowledge. This is critical even if you don’t go into cyber security, which is a super lucrative field.”
Bailey Christianson, a Roanoke ninth-grader, signed up for the camp because she is very interested in the technology field.
“I have been interested in tech for a while, so I wanted to see if it was a career I wanted to pursue, and attending this camp seemed like a good way to find out,” she said. “So far, it has been very interesting and informative.”
Cush Cuthbertson-Sewer, a Denton High School junior, is participating in the camp for her second year.
“Last year I was just learning, and I wanted to come back and see if I can learn more and do better,” Cuthbertson-Sewer said. “I am learning about how to keep my information safe and also protect items I or others create from cyber thieves.”
Mikala Goodnow, a ninth-grader Waxahachie, is curious about cyber security, as her father works in the field.
“It is a career I am interested in and wanted to learn more about it,” Mikala Goodnow said.
Her twin sister Katlynn, who wants to be a marine biologist, also has enjoyed her camp experience.
“It’s been very informative, and I am learning a lot,” Katlynn Goodnow said.
The TWU Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, the TWU Office of Technology and the AFA sponsor TWU’s CyberCamp. For more details about the camp, visit ttps://www.uscyberpatriot.org/Pages/Announcements/2015-AFA-CyberCamps.aspx.
Director of Media Relations
page updated 5/9/2016 4:57 PM