Seidenberg continues cybersecurity education with GenCyber workshop

GenCyber WorkshopThe Seidenberg School has long been committed to promoting cybersecurity education through a variety of programs and activities. GenCyber, a workshop hosted by Pace and Seidenberg this month, is one of the many ways in which the Seidenberg School has contributed to inspiring the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. 

The workshop is a prestigious cybersecurity education program funded jointly by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency, designed to promote cybersecurity education at the K-12 level. The 2015 Pace GenCyber was designed specifically for high school teachers, and Pace was one of only ten universities nationwide selected to host a teacher workshop in 2015. We welcomed 22 participants, mostly in STEM fields, but not exclusively so, from all over the U.S. including Washington, Florida, Colorado, and Iowa.

The workshop took place at Pace University’s Pleasantville campus, and was spearheaded by Professor and IT WEST Department Chairperson Li-Chiou Chen and Director of Assessment Andreea Cotoranu. The two organized the program from activity design, to instruction, and everything in between. Lectures for the workshop were then delivered by professors of high esteem within the Seidenberg faculty including Li-Chiou Chen, PhD, Charles Tappert, PhD, Meikang Qiu, PhD, and Darren Hayes, DPS with assistance from some of their talented doctoral students. Jigar Jadav, Computer Science teacher at Mamaroneck High-School, and Pace Computer Science PhD student, provided invaluable input on high school instruction and lesson plan development. Moreover, an orchestra of Pace and Seidenberg students and staff ensured that all logistics worked smoothly. According to Andreea Cotoranu, “this was truly a team effort.”

GenCyber Workshop

Throughout the two weeks of the workshop, the teachers dove into a variety of integrated lectures, labs, resource sharing, curriculum development activities, pedagogy, and community building that all focused on different aspects of four main pillars in cybersecurity including cryptography, network security, access control/biometrics and computer forensics. The workshop also introduced Design Thinking pedagogical strategies for problem solving, a student-centered approach to teaching that fosters learning through project development (brainstorming, creating, doing, etc.) in lieu of traditional lecture-style teaching methods.

GenCyber Workshop

Westchester Magazine quoted participant Virginia Nalbandian, a Pleasantville High School mathematics and computer science teacher, as saying, “the workshop has inspired me as a teacher to return to my classroom and inspire my students. And this is what education should ultimately be about.” Sponsors, participants, and organizers all feel hugely satisfied by the workshop’s success.

Everyone involved in GenCyber left the program with a positive, enthusiastic mindset about going forth and integrating cybersecurity in their curricula. The feedback from both participants and sponsors (NSA/NSF), has been excellent, and we are thrilled with the outcome! The organizers and sponsors are already discussing the plans for the return of the workshop next summer, and we look forward to hear how the project will grow.

 

D-D-D Defense! (or rather, C-C-D-C Defense!)

The Pace Cybersecurity Team based on the Pleasantville campus started the spring semester by competing in the virtual qualifier for the regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

IMG_1351 IMG_1371NECCDC 2015 Nick

Out of the twenty problems our cyber warriors had to address over the eight-hour competition, challenges included things like defending a small business network against a big bad Red team, the configuration of a Palo Alto firewall, implementation of SSH on Linux servers, and an internal vulnerability audit with OpenVAS, to name a few.

NECCDC Team 2015
(L to R): Mayrimar Vega-Vasquez (BS/IT), Joseph Glasser (BS/IT), Kaila Letteri (BS/IT) co-captain, Joseph Jacob (BS/IT), Brian Bounos (BS/CS), Joel Thomas (BS/CS), Nick Terrasi (BS/IT) co-captain, and Patrick Prescott (BS/IS).

Kaila Marie Letteri, a senior Information Technology major reflects on her experience.

“I found out about the Pace Cybersecurity Team in my junior year. I was very interested in getting involved in activities that would prepare me for a career in IT Security since my long-term goal is to work for the FBI or the CIA. I felt this cyber defense competition would be the perfect opportunity to expand my IT Security skills. However, after a few meetings I was intimidated because I did not know a lot, and I felt that the students on the team knew so much more than me. Now, in my senior year, I decided to give the competition one more try. After attending the first few meetings, the team held elections for captain positions. I told myself that this time I would not give up no matter what, and that it was meant to be a learning experience. It soon turned out to be one of the best learning experiences I have had at Pace.

I decided to run for team captain, and I was surprised to find out that I had been chosen to lead the team! We quickly started getting into gear by hosting meetings every Monday and Friday throughout the entire fall semester. We spent 60+ hours preparing the virtual environment for practice, running through different competition scenarios, and getting up to speed. The security-related courses most of us have taken provided a good base for the competition.

The team was a lot of fun this year! We had great chemistry and worked very well together. We were from different majors within Seidenberg, from different years, and with different levels of experience, but we made it work perfectly! I had so much fun spending time with the team and making new friends. We created a lot of great memories and inside jokes that I will remember for many years to come. However, it was not all fun and games because we all worked very hard learning new things and improving our skills. So when we had to get serious and go to work, we did.

I gained quite a bit of technical knowledge by joining this team and I would recommend the competition to any student interested in security. It is a learning process for many so do not get intimidated the way I did at first. You will learn what you need to know along the way. You will also learn how to work as a team and that is a skill an IT professional needs to master!”

The team was supported by the IT Department in Westchester, and was coached by adjunct professors Andreea Cotoranu and John Watkins. Those interested in joining the team next year should get in touch with professor Cotoranu at acotoranu@pace.edu.

FTC is Happening THIS WEEKEND

The FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] Tech Challenge (FTC) Championship is happening this weekend, on Sunday February 16th, as we briefly mentioned in a recent post. With the date fast approaching, we’re eager to tell you more about the event.

FIRST Tech Challenge allows high school students to work hand-in-hand with technical professionals to develop a solution to the annual challenge. Students design and construct robotic devices which can be autonomously programmed or operator-controlled to perform various tasks. ”  – FIRST web page

FTC is an annual tournament for students of ages 12-18, lasting from September, when the year’s project topic is revealed, until April, when the world championships are held. This year’s topic, titled “BLOCK PARTY!,” is a square-fielded game that will peg two-teamed ‘Alliances’ against each other in a match of obstacles and time limits with a points system to determine a winner. For this weekend’s challenge, 34 teams (down from the original 84  in the qualifying rounds across New York) will compete, and only 5 will move on to the next level in early April.

In preparation for the championships, more than 100 members of Pace’s community have helped make these games possible, namely Dr. Richard Kline, who is head mogul of the Hudson Valley chapter. The Seidenberg community has been involved with FIRST  for more than a decade, not only for the Tech Challenge, but Lego Leagues as well.

For more information about the tournament this weekend, or upcoming championships, visit Pace’s FTC page.