UNIVERSITY PARK, PA— At Penn State University’s College of Information Sciences and Technology’s (IST) first-ever summer camp aimed at providing teachers with fundamental cybersecurity principles and its intersection with data science, the West Essex Regional School District was one of only two New Jersey school districts to participate.

The five-day NittanyGenCyber Teacher Camp, with a theme of "Data Science Meets Cybersecurity," is being held this week, from Monday through Friday at Penn State’s University Park campus. Middle and high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educators, including teachers from West Essex Regional High School as well as teachers from New Jersey’s Warren Hills Regional School District, are currently attending.

During the camp, teachers will be trained in the basic knowledge of the cybersecurity and data sciences fields and will be given guided instruction on creating lesson plans for course content. Individual classes will focus on providing resources for teachers who are delivering cybersecurity concepts in the classroom through courses like AP Computer Science, computer networking classes and other STEM topics.

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“Researchers and other organizations have identified somewhere between 130,000 and 209,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs exist in the U.S. today,” said Nick Giacobe, assistant teaching professor of IST and director of the college’s undergraduate programs. “Worldwide, those estimates climb to 2.5-3.5 million unfilled cyber jobs by 2025. Regardless of which numbers you follow, the point is that there is a significant gap between the skills of the talent pool we have today versus what companies need today and tomorrow.” 

The camp will be led by the principal investigator, Dongwon Lee, associate professor of IST, and two co-principal investigators, Anna Squicciarini, associate professor of IST and Nick Giacobe, assistant teaching professor of IST. The camp will cover topics such as cybersecurity basics, cryptography fundamentals, online safety and cyber frauds, and online misinformation, customized for STEM teachers.

The program is funded through a grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) and National Science Foundation (NSF). The camp is part of the national GenCyber program, which aims to increase interest and diversity in cybersecurity careers and improve teaching methods for the delivery of cybersecurity content in K-12 curricula.

Learn more about the camp at gencyber.ist.psu.edu.

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