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NSA grant will fund UNG summer camp for future cyber warriors

NSA grant will fund UNG summer camp for future cyber warriors
The National Cyber Warrior Academy at UNG received a $94,000 grant from the National Security Agency's GenCyber program to host area high school students who want to pursue a career in cybersecurity.

Thanks to a $94,000 grant from the National Security Agency's (NSA) GenCyber program, the National Cyber Warrior Academy (NCWA) at the University of North Georgia (UNG) will again host area high school students whose career interests lie in cyber operations or security.

Now in its third year, the NCWA GenCyber summer camp is a free, 10-day residential cyber academy for 40 participants held on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus. The program prepares students for military, government and civilian cybersecurity career paths with emphasis on personal, organizational, and national awareness of digital security. This year's camp will run from June 20-30.

Dr. Bryson Payne, director of UNG's Center for Cyber Operations Education and professor of computer science in the Mike Cottrell College of Business, and Dr. Tamirat Abegaz, assistant professor of computer science, are the NCWA's faculty.

"Our vision for the Cyber Warrior Academy is to be part of the solution to the nation's shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals," Payne said. "The competition among high school students to come here is fierce, and the number of applicants has grown over the three years the camp has existed. It shows us that young people are really inspired to direct their talents in this area."

The academy includes 80 hours of classroom instruction and a mix of extension activities, including 40 hours of hands-on lab exercises. In addition, students will participate in drone programming, 3D printing, Sphero robotics, car hacking and coding in Python, a high-level programming language for general purpose computing.

The mix of classroom lectures, interactive labs, midday physical activities, and evening team-building and cyber "capture the flag" events will engage learners in an immersive experience. Daily multimedia presentations, question-and-answer sessions, and student demonstrations of various computer hacking exercises and Cyber First Principles concepts will aid students in taking active ownership of their learning experiences.

Students are instructed using the Certified Ethical Hacker iLabs curriculum, a qualification gained through assessing the degree of strength of a computer system using penetration testing techniques.

NCWA is open to area high school students who will be sophomores, juniors or seniors in fall 2018. Priority consideration will be given to students who are Summer Language Academy graduates or who have studied a strategic language such as Arabic, Farsi, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Students who have demonstrated high aptitude and achievement in high school math and/or computer science courses, or who have participated in computer-related extracurricular activities such as computer programming, robotics or cyber competition team membership will also be given priority consideration.

"As we become increasingly reliant on digital-based technology in every aspect of our daily lives, it is critical to the future of our country's national and economic security that we meet the increasing needs for online security," Payne said.

The NCWA is part of the national NSA GenCyber program that provides summer cybersecurity camp experiences for students and teachers at the K-12 level. The goals of the program are to increase interest in cybersecurity careers and diversity in the cybersecurity workforce of the nation, help all students understand correct and safe online behavior and how they can be good digital citizens, and improve teaching methods for delivery of cybersecurity content in K-12 curricula.

For more information on the National Cyber Warrior Academy, visit the website. The deadline for applications is May 20.

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