Howard County Students Train to Meet the Growing Cyber Security Demand

September 23, 2014

Bita Beigishah

Twenty Howard County high school students found themselves on a field trip last Wednesday that brought them to the Phoenix TS training center. Upon arrival the students, or should I say young cyber warriors, were greeted by the co-founder and CEO of Phoenix TS, Firoozeh Azarbaidjani-Do.

Accompanying the students on their trip were Howard County Public School System Deputy Superintendent Linda T. Wise and Howard County Board of Education member Sandra French.

After being greeted, the students, Superintendent Wise and Board member French were brought to a classroom where they received a lesson in cryptography and cyber encryption. The class was taught by Claude Williams, expert cyber security instructor. Claude taught the students several encryption techniques and the history of encryption from Egyptian hieroglyphics to the Spartans and more modern forms of encryption methods.

Once the class finished the students were each presented with a certificate of recognition for their first-hand training.

You can see Williams explain the difference between symmetric and asymmetric cryptography below:

HCPSS and the Cyber Security Networking Academy

ARL Students and Phoenix TS

The HoCo students that came to visit PhoenixTS are not your average high school students. They are training to become the next cyber security experts that will help to keep us safe in the future. These students are training for this now as apart of their curriculum within the Applications and Research Lab (ARL).

Application and Research Lab

The ARL hosts a variety of programs that HoCo students can join to take hands-on classes in specific fields of education. The ARL offers classes in cyber security and networking through their Cyber Security and Networking Academy. The same can be said for their courses on construction, healthcare and homeland security to name just a few.

The Application and Research Lab concentrates on a type of education that is career related. This means classes are not taught in a traditional manner. Instead of sitting behind a desk listening to a teacher lecture and tell you how you need to do well in class to get into a good university, these children are working towards a higher education in a more physical way.

HoCo ARL students are learning through a hands-on, real world application classroom. Students are on their feet moving around all day long while they diagnose security breaches and analyze possible solutions.

Examples of this are available in the following video where some of the students whom visited Phoenix TS explain how the ARL program and Cyber Security Networking Academy works.

Phoenix TS and Next Gen. Cyber Security Experts

Phoenix TS was thrilled to have a chance to connect with the next generation of certified ethical hackers, expert encryption analyzers and cryptography designers. When prompted by a reporter from the Baltimore Sun Azarbaidjani-Do said,

“These young men and women represent the future of cybersecurity and we want to support them the best way we know how – through working with our top notch professionals who are as eager to share their knowledge as the students are to learn.”

Deputy Superintendent Wise also was asked to comment on the event when she said;

“The Howard County Public School System has a deep and long term commitment to providing our students with a world-class education.  We’re incredibly proud of our Career Academy programs, of which the Cybersecurity Networking Academy is just one. Students in the academies have the ability to earn industry certifications that give them the opportunity to obtain employment while they continue their education. For example, students in the Cybersecurity Networking Academy can leave high school as a Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT).  Thanks to partners like Phoenix TS, they also have the opportunity to network with professionals in the field. We are very grateful to our neighbor, Phoenix TS, for the commitment they are showing to our students, and to their futures.”

The students not only listened to the lesson on cryptography, they were fully engaged and immersed in the topic. At one point it seemed like I was in a class full of certified professionals, which shows how if we as a community invest time in the next generation of students and workers, in turn we are investing in a better community for all.

Giving students the education they want and need to become the best possible professionals they can be will make our lives safer and keep our country on the forefront of technology. A feat that is proving to become harder and harder with each passing year as other countries start to develop their own tech forces that rival and competes with our own.

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