Sunday, April 10, 2011

Our need to increase the number of folks doing cybersecurity

Yesterday (April 9) I attended the Third Annual Cybersecurity Caucus in San Antonio. San Antonio is now officially CyberCityUSA, with the website to prove it. The Caucus was very eye-opening for me. Dr Fred Chang from UTSA presented information that was designed to wake people up:
  • There's a programming competion sponsored by ACM and called the "Battle of the Brains" that the US hasn't been on top in this decade.
  • He stated that 73,000 new strains of malware have been identified every day this year, and that these are the bullets in the cyberwar taking place today.
  • The Department of Homeland Security wanted to hire 1000 folks with cybersecurity skills and thus far has only been able to find 300.
Major General Richard Webber Commander, 24th Air Force is in charge of the U.S. Air Force's Cyber Operations. And he provided evidence that the cyber domain is the new battleground.

What I got out of this was the clear need to grow the pipeline for getting students interested in cyber security. There are a number of degree programs available through the academic institutions in San Antonio. There is a national high school competition called Cyber Patriot

CyberPatriot is the National High School Cyber Defense Competition created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to excite, educate, and motivate the next generation of cyber defenders and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates our nation needs.
I learned that while there's a desire to attract high school students to cyber security education and careers, no one had given thought to what could be done to prepare elementary students to become aware of the careers or to develop skills that would help them pursue careers in this field.

When pushed, one college educator thought the emphasis in computational thinking (see previous post) would help, and so might getting elementary students interested in, and participating in computer game design (that will be the topic of a future post).

My request to you is to broaden your thinking about 21st Century learning to include, not only computational thinking, and supercomputing, but computer game design and cyber security. The 21st Century is here, and has been here for a decade. We need to prepare our youth to be productive members of it.

No comments: