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GenCyber Camp Targets the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Professionals

Dr. Ying Liu
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

In an effort to inspire local high school students to pursue careers in the field of cybersecurity, St. John’s University will host a weeklong GenCyber camp this July, thanks to a $100,000 grant co-funded by the National Security Agency and National Science Foundation.

“As cyber-based attacks continue to threaten our national security, the need for qualified cybersecurity professionals grows,” said Katia Passerini, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Professional Studies. “By hosting the GenCyber program on campus, St. John’s seeks to increase the interest of young minds in this burgeoning field.”

According to GenCyber, the objective of the camp is not only to increase interest in cybersecurity careers and diversity in the cybersecurity workforce, but to help students understand safe online behavior.

“GenCyber’s goal is to enroll a class from populations that are historically underrepresented in the field,” said Program Director Ying Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science. A recent report from the Society for Human Resource Management found that women account for only 11 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, while minorities make up fewer than 12 percent.  

“Through this GenCyber grant, we are able to provide this exciting summer experience to select high school students by introducing them to the world of cybersecurity,” said Jared E. Littman, Director of the Office of Grants and Sponsored Research. “Working with Dean Passerini and her project team was a rewarding experience, and I congratulate her and her team for envisioning and securing this highly competitive and prestigious grant.” 

St. John’s GenCyber camp runs from July 16 to 20 at both the Queens and Staten Island campuses. According to Dr. Liu, 75 students in grades nine through 12 will participate in the program. “Since this is not a sleepaway camp,” he said, “we will mainly focus on local high school students who live in the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and northern New Jersey.”

All courses at the camp will be taught by St. John’s faculty. “Campers will learn the principles of cybersecurity and homeland security through a series of hands-on labs and projects,” said Dr. Liu. “The majority of their time will be spent in the Cyber Security Lab, the Homeland Security Lab, the Computer Science Lab, and the Innovation Lab.

Classes include Cryptography, Cyber Ethics, Cybersecurity Crisis Simulation, Network Security, and Drones.

The inclusion of drone technology in the curriculum promises to be one of the most exciting features of the camp. Students in the class will sharpen their drone-flying skills indoors by using the latest drone flight simulators. Once students become accustomed to flying the simulators inside, classes will move outdoors, and students will have the opportunity to fly real drones on the grounds of campus.

The week of camp concludes with a field trip to Manhattan to attend the popular cybersecurity conference sponsored by Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE), The Circle of HOPE, which has been held biennially since 1994.

“We are thrilled that the HOPE conference coincides with the GenCyber camp schedule,” said Dr. Liu. “I am sure that it will be among students’ favorite parts of what will already be an amazing week.”

For more information about the camp, please visit stjohns.edu/GenCyber, or contact Dr. Ying Liu at [email protected]; 718-990-2035.