UWF’s Center for Cybersecurity Gencyber Camps for Area Students Inspire, Educate About Careers in Cybersecurity

The University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity is preparing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals through its innovative GenCyber Experience Cyber Challenge courses and GenCyber Summer Camp.

The GenCyber Experience Cyber Challenge courses took place on April 15 and April 22 at the UWF Center for Cybersecurity and provided the opportunity for area middle and high school students to learn about cybersecurity including open-source intelligence, coding, web attacks and Kali Linux. Students were faced with different cyber problems and taught how to solve them. 

“They taught us to play poker to show us that when you gamble, you risk all of what you have to take from somebody else; and that’s what hackers do,” said Isabella Fayard, a seventh-grade student at Avalon Middle School. “They also taught us that cybersecurity professionals test the security of websites by using penetration platforms like Kali Linux. One of my favorite things was when they had us go to a webpage, look at its coding and figure out how to hack it.” 

The upcoming GenCyber Summer Camp for rising seventh to 10th-grade students provides an in-depth introduction to the world of cybersecurity. The week-long, free camp is offered June 5-9 or June 12-16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the UWF Center for Cybersecurity in downtown Pensacola. Attendees will spend the week making new friends, interacting with cybersecurity professionals and gaining hands-on experiences with real-world labs.

“I think the GenCyber programs are good for kids because they are really fun and it’s important for my generation to learn about cybersecurity for any job they will have in the future,” Fayard said. “After taking the Cyber Challenge courses, I’m thinking a lot more about a career in cybersecurity.”

Funded through the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation, the GenCyber program strives to be a part of the solution to the nation’s shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals. The vision of the program is to inspire the next generation of cyber stars by working with academia and federal partners to ignite cybersecurity awareness, increase interest and teach sound cybersecurity fundamentals that strengthen the cybersecurity education ecosystem and the nation’s future workforce.

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