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Aug. 20, 2014 10:48 am

Summer program at NYU Poly teaches cybersecurity to young women

NYU Poly wants more women in the digital security industry. Its summer program for high school-age girls looks to expose them to cybersecurity skills, and potential careers.

Hackers in training work on their final digital forensics challenge during one of NYU Poly's many summer STEM programs.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

The soon-to-be high school senior developers we talked to at NYU Poly’s second two-week program on cybersecurity for young women seemed to, broadly speaking, share two big takeaways.

  • First, everything you do is tracked online and you should be aware of that.
  • Second, after visiting two of the city’s Internet giants, jobs at Facebook and Google look pretty sweet.

We visited on the last day of the second week, as students worked through a digital forensics challenge. They were given an encrypted drive and a thumb drive and told that somewhere in those two artifacts is evidence that shows who committed a murder.

NYU Poly described the program this way:

Cyber Security for Young Women will introduce 44 high school girls to role models, programming, virtuous hacking, and digital forensics during two intensive and supportive programs designed to encourage them to pursue educational opportunities in cyber security—a field that is growing at more than 10 times the overall job market but is notoriously bereft of female professionals.

We previously reported on another major cybersecurity event at NYU Poly, CSAW, which was a weekend event for hackers and security experts at all levels.

Each of the two two-week programs were run by professor Linda Sellie, a theoretical computer scientist, one undergraduate, Emily Wicki, and one recent graduate, Jim Klopchic.

nyupoly

(Photo courtesy of NYU Poly Center for K12 STEM Education)

For Brooklyn Tech senior, Sakila Nazia, the course was a second chance to connect with material that hadn’t resonated with her before.

She had noticed that within her family, she was being pushed to pursue some sort of medically-related course of study. That’s what other women in her family had done. When the boys pursued science and engineering, they were encouraged, but not her.

However, when she tried some engineering courses in high school, she didn’t really like them.

Nazia wanted to give it another try, though, and the program gave her an opportunity to do that. She told us that she felt good about learning software, mentioning in particular working in Python and Linux. She also said visiting Google showed her the power of the scaleability of making something good in software form. “When you make one thing, it can have a bigger impact across all of society,” she said.

A related program for teachers, which offered training on how to set up cybersecurity programs at their high schools, also took place at NYU Poly this summer.

The school has been highly accredited by the NSA for its work in cybersecurity research and instruction.

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Brady Dale

Brady Dale is a freelance writer, comedian and storyteller. A native of Pittsburg, Kansas, he went to Cornell and worked as a progressive community organizer for over a decade before quitting his job to pursue writing and performance. He lives in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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