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News: Roane State's cybersecurity camps attracting increasing interest

Four separate photos of students in the Cyber Camp

Photos: Micah Burzese, Allison Givens, Isaac ORourke, Shreya Joseph

September 10, 2021

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

When Roane State sent out an online announcement in early January about this summer’s cybersecurity camps for students, they filled up within four hours.

Not only did students in area middle schools and high schools sign up for the virtual sessions, but three campers from out of state joined in.

Once again, the community college partnered with the educational outreach program at Oak Ridge’s Y-12 National Security Complex to offer the camps.

Roane State has developed a national reputation for its growing cybersecurity curriculum, which began being offered in 2017. Since then, Roane State student teams have excelled in coast-to-coast competitions with other colleges.

This summer’s camps were held in mid-June and mid-July, with high school age students linking into the four-day sessions first and middle schoolers following the next month.

“We got some rave reviews about these camps,” said Roane State Professor George Meghabghab, who again oversaw the online sessions. “I loved each minute, and students felt the same way.”

Interest in the camps “is exploding, and I feel the virtual outreach is critical,” Dr. Meghabghab stated in a memo to fellow faculty members and Y-12 officials.

Local campers this summer included students from Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Spring City, Rockwood, Kingston, Oliver Springs, Maryville, Clinton and the town of Oakdale in Morgan County. Two students from Maryland and one from New York also joined in.

One camper from Maryland said that state lacked any similar opportunities, Meghabghab added. In addition to overseeing the camps, Meghabghab serves as director of Roane State’s Computer Information Technology program.

“I really enjoyed this camp,” said Shreya Joseph, a student at the private Webb School of Knoxville. “I think it will help me be safe on the internet. It was a wonderful learning experience.”

Students were particularly intrigued by the recent breaches of major companies forced to pay ransom for the return of valuable – and vulnerable - data. Students wanted to know how such events could happen, Meghabghab said.

“Students were eager to understand the why and how of these breaches,” he said. “I provided them with tools to show them exactly what took place.”

“I felt students wanted more than ever before to do hands-on lessons, which is why I do what I do,” Meghabghab said in the memo. “I’m thinking about adding a few more things for next year.”

Additional details on Roane State’s Cybersecurity Summer Camp can be found online at roanestate.edu/cybercamp. Students and parents interested in reserving a seat for 2022 are advised to bookmark the cyber camp page and monitor Roane State social media for updates. Information on next year’s session will be posted as soon as it is available.

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