BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
Forty students from schools throughout Central Florida became junior cyber sleuths June 23-26, participating in a virtual world of fun, learning and interactive challenges at Daytona State College’s second annual summer cyber camp.
The students, ranging from high school freshmen to seniors, were introduced to beginner and intermediate computer security techniques involving digital forensics, browser security, malware handling, and virtualization.
“This was a perfect way to introduce students to the potential in pursuing careers in cyber security and cyber forensics,” said Dr. Philip Craiger, an associate professor in Daytona State’s School of Engineering Technology, and a principal investigator leading the Advanced Cyberforensics Education (ACE) Consortium. “The students were enthusiastic about what they were learning and very motivated to take on the challenges we gave them.”
Funded by grant
The free camp, held at Daytona State’s Advanced Technology College, was made possible by the consortium. Daytona State is the lead institution among nearly a dozen southeastern colleges and universities.
The consortium’s goal is to advance cyber forensic education in the southeastern United States and is funded by a four-year National Science Foundation grant totaling more than $1.8 million.
It has resulted in cybersecurity education program development at K-12 schools and higher education institutions throughout the southeast region, including Daytona State’s new advanced technical certificate in cyber security and cyber forensics starting this fall.
According to a recent study of 2008 college graduates released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics, 16 percent of college graduates nationwide took home degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, or STEM disciplines. Those degree holders were paid significantly better — averaging $65,000 a year compared with $49,500 of graduates of other degrees.
The findings are based on a survey of 17,110 students conducted in 2012, about four years after the students obtained their bachelor’s degrees.
The survey found a strong correlation between earning money and highly specialized degrees specifically those in the STEM disciplines, which include the cyber program the teens experienced at Daytona State.
Students continuing in this field may find themselves working in financial institutions, for Internet providers and software developers cyber forensics professionals, as well as for governmental agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security and for state and local law enforcement agencies.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, job growth in the cyber forensics field is expected to grow from 13 to 22 percent over the next five years, depending on which industry or government sector one chooses to pursue.
Craiger said the cyber camp will serve as a blueprint for other consortium institutions. “We believe we’ve learned enough about running a successful cyber camp to help our partner schools run their own.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the demand for cyber security professionals will increase by 37 percent over the next eight years.