The College of Eastern Idaho is hosting three days of events for a new Cyber Career Awareness Camp. The free events are meant to spark an interest in cyber-related jobs among local middle and high school students through two days of games and a mock career fair.
Monday and Tuesday nights were the game section of the camp at the college. Students played a game that simulated the work network security engineers do to counteract hackers. They also made a controller to play Super Mario Bros. using a series of wires and clay buttons from a Makey Makey electronic game kit.
Remy Stolworthy, 17, had plenty of experience with games and computers going into the camp. The Idaho Falls High School student had been interested in computer security since she began live-streaming herself playing video games on Twitch and YouTube at age 14.
“I have people try to hack me all the time. Being a girl on the internet, it’s easy to be vulnerable, so I want to know how to protect myself,” Stolworthy said.
Stolworthy was part of a Girls Go Cyberstart team through her high school last year, where she competed against other schools’ clubs to solve challenges related to cybersecurity.
Monday night’s event was set aside just for girls. Jennifer Lopez, program coordinator for CEI’s Workforce Training and Continuing Education division, wanted to make sure that this camp had a day set aside for girls to learn about computers because they are often outnumbered in that field. She remembered being at the college’s summer computer camp and having one of the two girls in the class say she felt out-of-place.
“She felt intimidated and wanted to leave. That really stuck with me because this girl was brilliant. She knew what she was doing, and she was clearly in the right place,” Lopez said.
Noelani Bess, 13, is a student at Bonneville Online High School, and her father works in the cybersecurity field. She attended the camp to get a better sense of whether she wanted to follow him into that field of work.
“If I learn about this now, I can be prepared for when I find a job that has to do with computers,” Noelani said.
The camp on Tuesday featured the same activities as the one Monday but was open to both boys and girls. Thursday will have a mock job fair at the college beginning at 6 p.m., where representatives from INL and other local companies will talk to the kids about the local computer-based jobs available to them after college.
“If they get interested in this, now you have high-paying careers available in this community. That is the upper end of cyber work available (through the lab),” said Linda Montgomery, the liaison between CEI and INL.
One student who attends the job fair Thursday will win a Makey Makey kit and a small Raspberry Pi computer that they can use to practice programming.