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07/10/2017

GenCyber Camps at Winthrop Bridge the Gaps in Cyber Security

Quick Facts

 Thirty teachers and 20 middle- and high-school students spent a week each in the ITC engaging in activities geared toward demystifying the cyber security profession.
 This was the first time Winthrop hosted a camp like this, thanks to more than $117,000 in grants from the National Security Agency and the National Science Fund.

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Student group

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — According to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), a non-profit information security advocacy group, one of the fastest-growing jobs in the world is cyber security. However, the group estimates there will be a shortage of professionals in this field by 2019.

Winthrop University helped address that shortage this summer at the GenCyber Student Teacher Camps, hosted in the Richard W. Riley College of Education’s Instructional Technology Center (ITC). Thirty teachers and 20 middle- and high-school students spent a week each in the ITC engaging in activities geared toward demystifying the cyber security profession.

“The goal was to educate people about cyber security and to motivate students to think about careers in cyber security,” said Marguerite Doman, assistant professor of computer science.

This was the first time Winthrop hosted a camp like this, thanks to more than $117,000 in grants from the National Security Agency and the National Science Fund. This included a $100 stipend for participating teachers. An expert with S.C. Cyber suggested to Doman that Winthrop go for the grants and host a GenCyber camp.

“We thought, ‘Winthrop is a good fit,’” Doman said. “We have a strong College of Education, and we’re all about educating teachers. We could make that education come to them.”

Participants started their mornings with warm-ups and a review of their goals. The rest of the day’s schedule included guest speakers, hands-on activities, games, presentations, breakout sessions in which they had to solve puzzles involving computer issues, daily reflections, help with curriculum development and more.

Kelly Hiatt, a computer teacher at Rawlinson Middle School, said she’s always looking for new ways to teach and new ideas for her classes. The GenCyber camp fit the bill.

“The instruction and everything is so good,” she said. “You never come in and sit down and say, ‘Oh great, what are we going to do today?’ It’s instructional and fun. It’s the way you look to teach, and I try to teach my students in a way that ‘demystifies’ everything.”

The topics even appealed to art teacher Teresa Strohl, who traveled to the camp from Charlotte’s Barringer Academic Center. She appreciated the camp’s one-on-one learning environment.

“I feel it’s my responsibility to keep kids safe online and to give them more opportunities to work in the technology field and see how it fits into the art world,” she said. “I always try to relate my lessons to some kind of technology. Technology is visual, and so is art.”

For more information, contact Nicole Chisari, communications coordinator, at 803/323-2236 or chisarin@winthrop.edu.


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