In 2015, the CyberCamp was held at 24 schools or organizations, including schools in the Los Rios Community College District and at Sierra College’s Rocklin campus.
This summer is the first time the camp has been held in Nevada County, with sessions at both Sierra College’s Nevada County and Tahoe-Truckee campuses. It was funded through the California Community College Chancellor’s “Doing What Matters” initiative, which in part focuses on creating pathways toward high wage, in-demand jobs.
And cybersecurity positions fit that bill. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a career in cybersecurity is just over $90,000 annually. There were more than 80,000 jobs in cybersecurity in 2014; the sector is expected to grow 18 percent by 2024, “much faster than average for all occupations,” according to the bureau.
Hurley has seen firsthand just how vital cybersecurity is for modern-day companies. In addition to teaching at Sierra College, Hurley works in real estate. About two years ago, he saw a $100,000 wire transfer intended for an insurance title company get diverted through online fraud.
“I realized right at that moment that lack of cyber security is a mortal threat to business,” Hurley said.
Hurley said he believes the students who are learning cybersecurity skills today will be innovators in the field in the future. Today’s young people are natural problem-solvers, he said.
“We need harness it while the harnessing is good and channel it for socially productive outcomes,” he said. For some students, including 14-year-old Dylan Hart, getting a head start in the field was part of the camp’s draw.
“In the future I hope to do something in the computer information technology or engineering world,” said Hart, who will be a sophomore at Nevada Union High School in the fall. “[The camp] is kind of a helpful little boost in.”
Both Hart and 14-year-old Justice Coray, who will be a freshman at Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning in the fall, said they picked up several new skills from the camp, including learning the computer-operating system Linux.
Learning basic cybersecurity skills in high school will give them an edge in the future, they said.
“We know these things when we’re younger so we can use them to the best of our abilities later on when we get a job in cybersecurity or working at Google or Apple,” Coray said.
But even those students who came in with minimal experience in the computer science field found the camp helpful. Kaylee Bohrer, 16, said her dad encouraged her to sign up; he’s a teacher at Bear River High School who will be introducing a computer science course into the school’s curriculum next year.
Bohrer, who will be a junior at Bear River in the fall, said she wasn’t particularly excited for the camp at first. But the experience — which included hearing from guest speakers who work in technology at Beale Air Force Base, AJA Video Systems and for Nevada County — changed her mind.
“Seeing all the possibilities here, and all the different career paths I can go down if I just know a little bit about computers, that’s exciting,” she said.
Bohrer said she’s not sure if she would be interested in pursuing computer science or cybersecurity as a career — but she believes the skills she learned at CyberCamp will be valuable tools in any profession.
“Computers are always going to be huge,” Bohrer said. “Knowing how they work, and how to use them and how to protect them properly is going to make a huge difference in what I decide to do.”
To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email [email protected] or call 530-477-4230.