RIT hosts ‘GenCyber’ computing security program for students and teachers

NSF-funded summer program aims to inspire interest in cybersecurity




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Rochester Institute of Technology is kicking off a summer learning opportunity for teachers, as well as camps for middle and high school students interested in the burgeoning field of cybersecurity.

The program, called GenCyberTM, is part of a nationwide effort to help address the nation’s shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals. At RIT, one workshop will be held for teachers and two camps will be held for students.

The GenCyber Workshop for Teachers will be held July 8–9. The workshop will help teachers gain knowledge and skills in the cybersecurity field and design curricula to train the next generation cybersecurity workforce.

The GenCyber Cybersecurity Exploration Camp at RIT: Collaborative Cyber Solutions for Cyber Threats, will be held July 13–17 and 20–24. The camp will allow students in grades eight through 12 to explore the diverse array of cybersecurity careers available and the latest computing security technology at RIT. The student camps are being held as part of RIT’s Kids on Campus summer camp program. Both the student and teacher programs at RIT are currently full.

“In these workshops, both groups will learn how to deal with cyber threats through a variety of collaborative, hands-on activities including password hacking, live malware handling and smartphone protection,” said Andy Meneely, assistant professor of software engineering. “In addition, the teachers get to discuss and learn how to incorporate the curriculum into their own schools.”

Cybersecurity students and faculty at RIT developed the GenCyber camps. The materials are designed so that a background in computer programming is not required for students and teachers.

“We are getting students from as far as northern Virginia, New Jersey, Brooklyn and Albany,” said Rajendra Raj, professor of computer science. “These students’ parents are willing to spend a week in Rochester, as they think the GenCyber camp is important for their kids’ future careers.”

The GenCyber camps are offered at no cost to participants and are funded jointly by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation. In 2015, there are 43 GenCyber summer camps being held on 29 college campuses in 18 states—three of the camps are being held at RIT. The federal plan is to expand from the current 43 camps to 200 by 2020.

The GenCyber program at RIT is being led by faculty heading RIT’s NSF-funded CyberCorps® Scholarships for Service program, which offers scholarships to RIT undergraduate students to complete a master’s degree in computing security.

“Both the CyberCorps® and the GenCyber programs are nationally prestigious programs, and we are delighted to host them at RIT,” said Bo Yuan, associate professor and department chair of computing security. Yuan, Meneely and Raj jointly head both these efforts.

In 2012, RIT became the first university in the nation to create an academic department solely dedicated to computing security. RIT’s Department of Computing Security is housed within RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.