June 8, 2016

New Purdue cybersecurity camp reaches out to Midwest students

Seigried-Spellar Kathryn C. Seigfried
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue Polytechnic Institute professors hope to discover an untapped potential in high school students this week through the first Purdue University Cybersecurity Camp.

Kathryn C. Seigfried-Spellar, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology (CIT), said the camp is intended for those who normally don’t have the means to attend such learning opportunities.

The on-campus camp is the first to be offered to students in the Midwest through the GenCyber student program with funding provided jointly by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation.

Dewayne Moffitt, student success coordinator at Tecumseh Junior High School in Lafayette, pointed out that a cybersecurity camp through GenCyber was not available in the Midwest. Seigfried-Spellar said she was surprised the region was not represented.

laux Dawn Laux
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“It was something where I thought it is a great opportunity and something I didn’t have and wasn’t available to me when I was a student,” she said. “Why not be able to bring this to some of the students here?”

The camp is offered at no cost and runs from Sunday (June 12) through June 17. Forty students from ninth to 12th grades are expected from Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state and Indiana – including the Lafayette and Indianapolis areas.

Signups for the camp have ended.

Seigfried-Spellar said the camp applications offered insight on the students, with many interested in computers but not truly understanding the full scope of cybersecurity.

“It’s going to be really nice to open those doors to them,” she said. “Some of them don’t think of cybersecurity as a career. They think of computer science or computer engineering. They don’t think of the other options they have now.”

Seigfried-Spellar listed digital forensics and global application development among the careers that require experience in cybersecurity.

Purdue is launching a new undergraduate major in cybersecurity.

The camp accepted a variety of students, ranging from those well versed in computers to those without much experience. Dawn Laux, assistant department head and clinical associate professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology, said the students will gain better insight into the field.

“Many of the students attending have had minimal experience in computing-related courses, so this is an opportunity to provide a look into the discipline of cybersecurity,” she said. “There is a lack of diversity in the computing industry, and opportunities such as this camp can make a difference.” 

Seigfried-Spellar describes the camp as a “real hands-on experience.” Participants will learn about programming, cybersecurity, networking, ethics and online safety as part of the foundational courses.

In addition, they will experience activities focused on eight topics: high tech crime unit, cryptography and steganography, digital forensics, malicious software, mobile app development, network forensics, robotics and the cybercriminal.

Undergraduate and graduate students will mentor the camp participants for the week. In addition to faculty members, DelMar Software Development will teach students about the mobile application side of cybersecurity. 

Writer: Brian L. Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Sources: Kathryn C. Seigfried-Spellar, 765-494-2439, kspellar@purdue.edu

Dawn Laux, 765-494-5995, dlaux@purdue.edu

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