Year-long learning takes place in CyberPatriot clubs
All cyber camps are not created equal.
GenCyber camps, such as those hosted by Dakota State University through partnerships with federal agencies, introduce students to technology in hopes that they will consider a career in cyber security.
Cyber Patriot camps, such as the camp put on this summer at the CTE Academy in Sioux Falls, have a different mission.
“They are more focused on preparing students for cyber defense competitions (CDC),” said Dr. Josh Stroschein, assistant professor of cyber security and network & security administration at Dakota State. He is also the new coordinator of DSU’s master of science program in cyber defense (MSCD).
“CyberPatriot is more than a camp,” Stroschein explained. “It is meant to supplement and add cyber security curriculum to middle and high school programs throughout the academic year. This is a very important distinction,” he pointed out, “as CyberPatriot programs give students the opportunity for ongoing growth and learning in this profession.” He noted that the program can be a great way for GenCyber campers to continue their cyber education.
Stroschein is working to start CyberPatriot clubs around the Sioux Falls area to give all students year-round opportunities to continue to grow and learn about cyber security and information technology, and apply the knowledge in realistic, competitive environments. These clubs can be a great addition to schools, as well as clubs that are independent of a school district, he pointed out. He is also creating an online community for those in the region which will provide mentorship, guidance and an easy place to ask questions.
Curriculum goes into great detail to teach what are called ‘blue team operations,’” he said, skills needed for securing (hardening) a computer system and network. Students use this knowledge and these skills in the CDC competitions, in which teams of high school and middle school students act as newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company.
Even if students do not intend to be a cyber security professional, CyberPatriot programs instill in students what Stroschein calls “cyber hygiene,” defined as the fundamental knowledge and skills that will prepare them for an ever-increasing digital life.
“This is something that every student should study to some degree,” he said.
Stroschein is planning for more camps next summer, a basic camp and an advanced camp.
The 2018 camp was put on with the help of many volunteers, the Iowa Air National Guard, DSU faculty and students, the Sioux Falls School District and CTE, and Code Bootcamp; funding sponsors included DSU’s CybHER program and Cars For Sale.
CyberPatriot is part of the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Education Program.