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PCC gets $189,000 grant to help get kids interested in the cybersecurity field

PCC received a roughly $189,000 grant from the National Security Agency to create a repository for cybersecurity educational materials.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The world has become increasingly more reliant on computers and technology. With that increased reliance comes people who want to take advantage.

In the world of cybersecurity, experts say there’s a big shortage of workers. It's an issue especially because there's no shortage of people trying to steal or exploit sensitive information. As such there are major efforts underway to get more people into the cybersecurity field.

“So a lot of different groups, you know — from government, to different companies, to other types of organizations to educational institutions — are trying to figure out how can we get more people with cybersecurity skills to fill these different positions,” said Dr. Cara Tang, a Portland Community College professor who leads the cybersecurity program.

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Tang said that the school just received a roughly $189,000 grant from the National Security Agency, or NSA.

“The National Security Agency has a program that they call GenCyber that they've been running for a number of years now, and this program hosts camps for students from K-12 to get interested in cybersecurity,” Tang said.

PCC’s role will be supporting those camps through collecting vetted curriculum so there’s a central location for each camp to draw resources.

“This will be a public resource that can also be used by, you know, teachers at school — even outside of the GenCyber program, if they want to teach cybersecurity in their courses,” said Tang.

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In a press release, PCC staff described the project as assembling a GenCyber instructor survival kit for middle and high school computer science and cybersecurity teachers across the country.

It’s no accident that PCC has been chosen to head up the nationwide effort. Tang said that in 2018, PCC was recognized by the NSA as a center of academic excellence in cybersecurity.

The hope is that the creation of a repository containing quality cybersecurity educational materials will help promote interest in the cybersecurity field among more kids and teens from different backgrounds.

Tang said PCC will be working with SecurEd, a nonprofit that will host the material online. She said the nonprofit already has educational materials on its website but hopes that there will be more resources available by this summer.

“The kit will be on the CLARK Curriculum Library, which hosts the largest compilation of high-value, high-impact cybersecurity curriculum in the country,” PCC staff said in a press release.

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