When Anna Carlin started working in IT in the 1980s, there were more women in the field than she saw 20 years later as an IT instructor.

Over the years, Carlin has used her experience in education and industry to help students understand the value that working in IT and cybersecurity can bring and inspire the next generation of ethical leaders.

Carlin worked in cybersecurity before there was a formal term for the field. She evolved from looking at the risk associated with computer systems at all levels to making presentations to the board of directors on the security over computer systems.

Along the way, she was asked to help teach some classes at Cal Poly Pomona. She was hesitant at first but knew that her professional experience would be valuable in the classroom.

“I never thought of going into academia,” Carlin said. “But I quickly found that I loved the interaction with students and sharing what I wish I knew when I was in their shoes.  In addition, understanding how what you are learning is applied in business is valuable.”

Carlin taught at Cal Poly Pomona for 20 years before moving to Fullerton College in 2016. Her goal as an educator is to help students build the bridge to what comes next after college. She also encourages lifelong learning and membership in professional organizations such as ISACA.  She is a board member and chairs the Academic Relations Committee for the Los Angeles chapter.

Carlin promotes the networking opportunities afforded by professional associations but also encourages security professionals to share their expertise with the future workforce by visiting the classroom, judging student-based competitions, advising colleges on curriculum, and mentoring.

Building professional connections and career paths early is the key to filling cybersecurity vacancies, she said. Some students might instantly know that cybersecurity is the career they want, but many discover it gradually.

“When there’s a shortage of people, you need to plant all the seeds you can,” she said. “You can’t sit around waiting for the right time when the lightbulb goes off.”

Carlin has mentored countless women throughout her career, including Tobi West, a cybersecurity professor at Coastline Community College and founder of the CyberTech Girls program. Carlin met West when she was a graduate student at Cal Poly Pomona and said the two hit it off almost immediately.

They now work together on CyberTech Girls, where West said Carlin serves as a role model for what a successful IT career can look like.

“Anna has been an inspiration for CyberTech Girls as an original supporter of the vision for the program,” West said. “Since the start of CyberTech Girls, she has provided workshop ideas and local event support as mentor and workshop trainer.”

Carlin sees the movement to promote stable, high-paying cybersecurity jobs to young women as an extension of the women’s empowerment movement she grew up with in the 1970s.

“The majority of single-income homes in America are made up of women who make their own decisions in life that are not dependent upon someone else’s paycheck,” Carlin said. “Cybersecurity is a high-paying field. We need to reach women early to give them a sense of what it’s all about and help them see a career path for themselves.”

Though she was hesitant about teaching at first, Carlin’s expertise has proven to be invaluable in the classroom. Carlin and West frequently collaborate on a presentation called “Cyber Up! Your Resume!” that helps students accentuate cybersecurity experience on job applications.

“Anna is a wonderful teacher both inside and outside of the classroom,” West said. “We have co-presented on several occasions to help students and those entering the field develop their resumes and their skills to prepare for cybersecurity careers.”

Carlin knows that women in IT may have different motivations than their male counterparts. She understands these motivations and emphasizes how careers in cybersecurity can satisfy them.

“Women want to see the value of the work they do,” Carlin said. “They’re not in it just for the money. They want to get up and go to work that doesn’t seem like work, and see the positive impact of their work.”

Jay Gehringer spent 27 years as a high school band director before making the transition into cybersecurity education. He knows firsthand the value that comes from being well-rounded and having expertise in multiple areas.

As a cyber coach and mentor at North Hollywood High School, he passes that lesson onto his students as they prepare for college and the working world. Cybersecurity impacts every part of the economy, and cybersecurity professionals need to be experts in technology and their industry.

“If you want someone to do cybersecurity for your oil refinery, you want them to be a petroleum engineer, but you also want them to be interested in their cybersecurity,” Gehringer said. “You need content knowledge in whatever area you’re working in, not just knowledge about cybersecurity.”

Gehringer encourages his students to consider double majors in college and reiterates that they don’t have to give up their passion for another field just because they are interested in cybersecurity.

His own career path mirrors some of these same ideas. He majored in music but took programming courses during college. He continued to learn about computers as a side project while he was a band director and eventually made the transition into teaching technology full-time.

Gehringer heard about CyberPatriot through a school district press release and thought he might be able to help out. He began coaching in 2011.His experience shows that anyone can become a cyber coach, regardless of their background or experience.

“99 percent of what I know about teaching cybersecurity, I didn’t know when I started,” Gehringer said. “I took Cisco courses, did a lot of research online, talked to kids who had figured things out and got some help from other instructors along the way.”

Gehringer’s students are three-time CyberPatriot National Champions, winning in the Open Division in 2014, 2017, and 2018.  As a coach, he’s careful not to overemphasize the success and helps his students keep their performance in perspective.

“Kids naturally like to do things well and at a high level,” Gehringer said. “With the support I’m able to give my students, they’re instantly one of the better teams in the country. I’m always reminding them that, while winning is important, it’s not the only reason to participate in these competitions.”

North Hollywood High School’s CyberPatriot teams are run as part of the Beyond the Bell after-school program. Gehringer said this approach helps him reach students who might not have room in the school day for cybersecurity education.

“It gives me access to kids who are taking a very heavy academic schedule,” Gehringer said. “Kids who are interested in cyber generally are not doing sports or performing arts. When mom was trying to get them to go out and play, they wanted to sit inside on the computer. CyberPatriot gives them an opportunity to work as part of a team.”

As his teams continue to achieve success, Gehringer uses that notoriety to spread the word about the potential cybersecurity offers as a career path. Once parents understand what it is, he says, they instantly see what he’s known for years.

“I like cybersecurity as a career because it’s not a job that’s going to get exported overseas or taken over by a robot,” Gehringer said. “A lot of parents are stuck on their kids being a doctor or lawyer, but that changes pretty quickly when you start talking about their kids coming out of college with multiple job offers before they graduate.”

Gehringer’s students will defend their national title at the CyberPatriot XI National Championship in Baltimore April 8-10.

Starting a cyber team involves hard work and dedication under normal circumstances. New coaches need to make arrangements with their schools, recruit students, and begin building community partnerships.

Now imagine trying to do all of those things while your community is recovering from devastating wildfires.

That’s the situation computer science teacher Edwin Kang found himself in last fall, but he did not let it stop him from creating several new teams at Ukiah High School.

The Ukiah area was impacted by the Mendocino Complex Fire in August 2018, and then again by the Camp Fire in October 2018.

“There was still smoke around when we came back to school the first week … it really lowered morale and made it hard to get back into the swing of things,” Kang said.

Over time though, Kang began to revive his existing robotics teams and see the potential to expand into cyber competitions. Ukiah High School is excited to compete in the California Mayors Cyber Cup for the first time later this month.

To help with his new teams, Kang is turning to a seemingly unlikely source.

“I’m getting the football coach to help me with a second team,” Kang said. “He has very little technical background, but he but knows how to coach and wants to work with kids as much as he can.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Kang has worked at Ukiah High School since 2014. Before that, he taught computer science at nearby Potter Valley High School. He became interested in cybersecurity after the Mendocino County Office of Education asked him to teach a course on “hacking the news” following the 2016 presidential election.

His passion had always been robotics, but he quickly saw the demand for quality cybersecurity education and learned about the resources available through the California Cyberhub to make it happen.

“Cyber education needs to be developed in middle school high school, and even a basic understanding in elementary school,” Kang said. “It’s becoming more and more relevant every day for all of us, and it’s becoming easier than ever to learn through things like the IT fundamentals program.”

Kang spends summers teaching at SMASH Academy, a STEM-intensive residential college prep program for students from underserved communities. SMASH Academy has locations across the country; Kang teaches at UC Berkeley.

“I live with them for five weeks in the summer and travel with them throughout the Bay Area,” Kang said.  “At the end of the summer, students leave with a portfolio they can use for scholarships, internships, and jobs.”

Kang remains passionate about robots and continues to advise Ukiah High School’s robotics team, which visited Google’s headquarters earlier this year. Moving forward, he sees opportunities for collaboration between robotics and cyber competitions.

“I am deeply passionate about fostering the next generation of responsible and ethical digital citizens,” Kang said. “Everything we’re doing in STEM, cyber, and robotics is part of that.”

Skip Brewer is the Computer Security Manager at the Elk Grove Unified School District, a position he took after several years in the IT industry. Given that experience, he was a little skeptical about cyber competitions when one of his teachers approached him about using a school computer lab to start a team.

“The first year I refused because I didn’t want kids on my network hacking,” Brewer said.

After seeing CyberPatriot in action, however, Brewer quickly realized that CyberPatriot was exactly the opposite of his original notion. He quickly signed on to help the district’s teams as a mentor and watched the program double in size.

Not only does Brewer serve as a coach and a mentor, but he also actively recruits other IT professionals to give back by becoming involved with cyber competitions in their areas.

Both coaches and mentors play integral roles in cyber competitions. Coaches serve as team leaders and provide both logistical and emotional support to the students. They do not need to have technical experience — that’s where mentors come in.

Mentors provide technical expertise about specifics aspects of the cyber competition, such as configuring accounts or securing systems. In other words, they worry about the technical details so coaches don’t have to.

Brewer said serving as a team’s sole mentor can be a substantial time commitment and require a broader set of expertise than one person typically has.

“I’ve been encouraging coaches to find multiple mentors who might come in once a month or once every few months,” Brewer said. “No one person is going to have all the expertise you need, and it opens up the pool of candidates to those who might not be available on a weekly basis.”

Brewer recently spoke about cyber competitions at the Educational Technology Professional Association conference, where he tried to dispel the myth that cyber competitions are all about hacking. Despite the success of CyberPatriot and other programs,

“I talked to people all week who have any involvement in technology and encouraged them to reach out and assist their schools who have cyber teams or want to start them,” Brewer said. “There’s still a misconception out there about what the program is. It’s not teaching kids how to hack; it’s quite the opposite.”

Brewer is also involved with efforts to make cyber competitions a full-fledged sport at the Elk Grove Unified School District. He believes that giving esports the same recognition as traditional sports will help build enthusiasm and increase participation.

Cindy Lascola, co-coordinator of the Design and Technology Academy (DATA) at Monterey Trail High School, met Brewer 20 years ago when he began visiting her classes to talk with students about how to stay safe online. He also serves as an adviser to 11th-grade DATA students and received DATA’s Partner of the Year Award.

Brewer approached Lascola about participating in CyberPatriot, and she quickly found that it would be a good fit for DATA students who were interested in engineering, computer science, architecture, and related fields.

“Skip is a wonderful mentor, speaker, coach and inspirational leader to our students,” Lascola said. “DATA Cyber is a model program thanks to Skip’s the coaching and leadership.”

He’s fortunate to have the support of Elk Grove’s administration, which allows him to spend one afternoon per week working with the CyberPatriot students. He put in his own time, too, but the dedicated time during the week makes being a mentor and a coach much easier to schedule.

“I really encourage leaders in other districts to make the investment with the kids,” Brewer said.  “Helping kids learn this stuff and compete is making an investment in their education and their futures.”

 

Ticket Into Tech shows that IT and cybersecurity are for everyone

Michael Specchierla’s career began as a teacher and librarian more than 20 years ago. As computers and the Internet made their way into schools in the mid-1990s, he quickly saw the potential they could have and, although he didn’t know exactly how everything worked, jumped at the opportunity to figure it out with his students and colleagues.

Specchierla still applies that mindset today as the Director of Career and Technical Education for the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education. In that role, he’s responsible for creating programs that give students the skills they need to meet the demand for IT and cybersecurity jobs in the region.

Along the way, Specchierla has always stressed the importance of innovation and hands-on learning. The desire to learn and motivate others goes much farther than degrees or technical experience when it comes to introducing students to new concepts like IT and cybersecurity.

“We took a classic 1960s library and brought a computer lab into it,” he said. “We learned pretty quickly how to set up routers and servers and get the bandwidth moving. I taught a library assistant how to do basic troubleshooting so they would know when to escalate.”

Specchierla oversees the SLO Partners program, which connects business and education to promote real-world learning through apprenticeships and create pathways from the classroom to IT jobs in less than two years.

Throughout his career, Specchierla has seen that technology changes quickly and it is impossible for teachers to stay on top of everything. Letting go of the notion that teachers need to have the answer to every question is essential for success in IT and cybersecurity, as he’s experienced in his own teaching.

“The subject matter and content will keep on changing, and you need to be willing to learn it alongside people,” he said. “I took comfort in the fact that I didn’t know all of the answers, but I knew more about how to solve problems and figure things out quickly so I could help them find the answers they needed.”

Specchierla’s experience in the K-12 world demonstrated that anyone could enter the technology field, no matter what level of familiarity with technology they had. This philosophy lies at the heart of SLO Partners Ticket Into Tech Program, which provides training and apprenticeships to people from all backgrounds who have the desire to learn.

Ticket Into Tech provides a mix of online and classroom learning, along with a yearlong apprenticeship, to give participants the skills they need to obtain stable, high-paying jobs as software developers, software testing technicians, IT technicians, and other technology-related positions.

“We brought in people who had minimal experience with tech and never thought they could do it,” he said. “Our apprenticeship program allows them to start doing the work and getting the confidence that comes with it. Employes are going to see that they’re a good bet.”

And, thanks to the efforts by Specchierla and his team, employers are already starting to see the benefits that Ticket Into Tech provides. The immersive approach Specchierla piloted in his classrooms and libraries is paying off for businesses throughout the San Luis Obispo region.

“Bootcamp-style training programs are so effective for technology. They essentially throw all the information at you so you can see what sticks and what piques your interest,” said Dan Blike, Lead Software Engineer at IQMS. “A lot of people don’t know what they like about tech until they experience it. It’s also hard to see why the theory and curriculum matters until you start building something, so it provides that much-needed context.”

Specchierla said Ticket Into Tech’s success shows the power that can come when industry and education work together.

“If you use your employer partners correctly, they’ll give you those real-world problems and that’s what you need to bring into the classroom,” he said.

Clever Ducks, an IT consulting firm in San Luis Obispo, has hosted several Ticket Into Tech apprentices, who gained hands-on experience from the company’s more seasoned employees. Co-founder Amy Kardel sees the apprenticeship program as a critical part of building and sustaining a cybersecurity workforce.

“When we think about cybersecurity we think often of only the point of the spear cyber warrior types, but cybersecurity requires a whole army of skilled tech workforce to set things up correctly in the IT environment and maintain them,” Kardel said. “Apprenticeships let us train this essential workforce efficiently and meet the needs of the job market while giving people a great start in a growing career field.”

Moving forward, Specchierla hopes Ticket Into Tech’s success will help break the stereotype that people need to have technical backgrounds to succeed in the technology industry or mentor others looking to do so. This applies to teachers, coaches, and anyone else looking to take on a mentoring role in IT or cybersecurity.

It might seem counterintuitive or even a little scary to think about, but as Specchierla’s career has shown, it definitely pays off in the end.

“Early on in my teaching career, one of my mentor teachers said that the teacher shouldn’t be the hardest person working in the room or the one doing all the work,” Specchierla said. “High schools and community colleges need to create environments that allow the learning to be supported and amplified and allow students to gain confidence in the process.”

 

After more than two decades of working in the private sector, Sara Gopalan saw firsthand the gap between what students were learning and what was needed to be successful in the cybersecurity field.

She decided to take matters into her own hands and become a teacher herself. In just a few years, she has become an integral part of the cybersecurity education community in the Inland Empire region.

Gopalan is a Career Technical Education (CTE) Teacher at Temecula Valley High School (TVHS), where she specializes in Information and Communications Technologies pathway. 

Her mother was a teacher in India and, while she didn’t initially see herself following in those footsteps, she’s glad that she did.

Gopalan started small by volunteering to teach a free course on computer fundamentals at her local library. She also became involved with CoderDojo, a worldwide network of volunteers who teach programming to children ages 7-17, and joined the CTE Advisory Committee at Temecula Valley Unified School District.

That work eventually led to an offer to become a CTE teacher. While Gopalan had decades of professional experience, she did not have teaching credentials. She found a program that allowed her to obtain them in six months and she quickly hit the ground building a three-course IT/cybersecurity pathway based on Cisco’s Network Academy curriculum.

In an effort to bridge the gap she saw between industry and education, Gopalan integrates guest speakers and soft skills like interviewing and teamwork into her classes.

“Because my course is part of career technical education, I need to connect it to what they’ll see in the workplace,” she said. “If they have to hire someone in the workplace, what are the skills they are looking for?”

Gopalan’s passion has positioned TVHS as a leader in the region and one that’s poised to become a statewide presence.

“Sara is a go-getter. She is incredibly resourceful and thorough in her work,” said Kim Randall, CTE Department Chair at TVHS. “She has brought her industry expertise to the classroom at TVHS, and we are so fortunate to have her working with students in this ICT pathway.”

In addition to launching a new pathway, Gopalan also helped build a CyberPatriot presence at her school. She recalls meeting with California Cyberhub Community Manager Donna Woods and wanting to emulate the success she’s created at Moreno Valley High School. 

“The students I saw were so engaged the whole time, and I was so impressed by how much they had prepared ahead of time,” Gopalan said. “They had binders of notes and highlights on every page.”

Gopalan worked with Susanne Mata, ICT-DM Deputy Sector Navigator in the Inland Empire/Desert Region,  to obtain funding for what are now five CyberPatriot teams in the Temecula Valley Unified School District.

Karen Walker coaches one of those teams at Chaparral High School. She said Gopalan’s leadership and guidance made her transition into coaching very smooth.

“Sara has helped me immensely with CyberPatriot,” Walker said. “She has done most of the work researching what we needed to do and how to do it.  She also has usually been the one to fill out all the necessary paperwork for our district, both to get our teams funded and to get our buses to competitions.”

Gopalan said she’s learned a lot from Cyberhub community members like Irvin Lemus. She hopes that the Inland Empire will be able to achieve the success Lemus and his colleagues have in the Bay Area. She also hopes to collaborate with middle schools to establish strong feeder courses in ICT pathway in the Temecula Valley Unified School District.

 “It is amazing to see how much the awareness about Cybersecurity has grown in the past two years,” she said. “We’ve gained great momentum, and I want to pass it on to middle schools so students will be prepared to try these classes and activities when they get to high school.”

 

Cyber Hero Kenneth SlaghtSlaght is a firm believer that internships and apprenticeships are the way to meet this demand by providing a clear pathway from high schools and community colleges to cybersecurity jobs. The CCOE’s Internship and Apprenticeship Pipeline and Link2Cyber programs connect students and recent graduates with career opportunities in the region.

The CCOE is working to create what Slaght calls cyber’s “blue collar workforce,” or a new class of employees who are working secure, high-paying jobs that do not require college degrees. Read more

Dan MansonAfter making strides to improve educational opportunities in cybersecurity, Manson still felt like something was needed to bridge the gap between the classroom and the working world. He traveled to the midwest to attend his first cyber competition in 2007 and took a video camera to interview some of the competitors. He didn’t have to do many interviews before he realized that he’d found the missing piece of the puzzle.

“A student said to me that he could learn more in these three days than in a year’s worth of classes,” Manson said. “What I realized later is that to be good in these competitions, you’ll practice for months and students could learn faster through competitions.”

Manson returned to California determined to replicate the success he’d seen in the Midwest. He started hosting the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in 2008 and took a team from Cal Poly Pomona to nationals in 2009.

That team gained a lot of attention and demonstrated the need for cybersecurity professionals that still exists today.

“Boeing said they wanted to interview our team and offered every one of those students on the team a job,” Manson said. “Those early students were pioneers. College cybersecurity programs are much more developed now than they were then and it’s easier for students to go into it now.”

While Manson’s work brought him notoriety in the cybersecurity community, longtime colleague Ronald Pike said personal gain was never the goal.

“Dan’s selfless support of others in cybersecurity has included research to lay out a path to success for young cyber-students, the development of competitions to allow students to test and demonstrate their skills, the development of research projects to engage students in solving some of cybersecurity’s great challenges, grant and philanthropy work to bring in resources to make competitions and research in cybersecurity possible and endless energy to support students,” said Pike, an associate professor of Computer Information Systems at Cal Poly Pomona.

Manson began working with high school students in 2010 and, after seeing CyberPatriot in action, realized that cyber athletes could exist alongside any other sports team and the competitions could draw spectators just like a football or basketball game would.

To that end, he’s worked to expand cyber competitions beyond CyberPatriot to include capture the flag and other competitions designed to attract a diverse group of students and foster a sense of community just like any other sports team.

Unlike a lot of other sports teams, however, just about any cyber athlete can reach the major leagues by obtaining a well-paying job in California or anywhere in the U.S. or around the world.

“We can create cyber athletes who are just as passionate about what they do as any other athletes and who can go pro a lot easier than any other athlete,” Manson said. “When I see the kids play in competitions, I think they’re playing a sport.”

Although Manson will no longer be working directly in California as he begins his new challenge in Nevada, Pike said his efforts will continue to be felt for years to come.

“Our students go to the top corporate and government employers in the nation because of the programs that Dan put in place,” Pike said. “Also, students from middle school through colleges all around the nation benefit from programs and capabilities that exist because of Dan’s dedication to students in this field.”

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GSCH“The girls asked them questions about their careers and what they do and had a chance to visualize themselves in those careers,” Raleigh said. “For the employers, it was a chance to come in and see what GenCyber is all about and get a hands-on look at what these students are doing.”

Sarah Brown, a third-year GenCyber attendee, moved from the middle school group to the high school group this year and said she enjoyed the more advanced level of learning that came along wit hit.

“We interacted a lot more in the virtual reality room and I learned how the fisheye camera works and how to live stream and the delay that occurs between the equipment and the stream,” she said.

Hawley said the all-female environment helps build a sense of confidence in the girls that would not exist in a mixed-gender environment.

“Girls learn differently than boys do,” Hawley said. “If she’s not 100 percent sure, she won’t raise her hand if she’s around male counterparts. It shows just how important this work is to provide the all-girl learning environment.”

That confidence is bolstered even more by the CSU San Bernadino faculty who serve as GenCyber instructors. Claire Jefferson-Gilpa’s 14-year-old daughter had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for a college-level class after her GenCyber experience — which speaks to the academic integrity of the program and its faculty.

“She enthusiastically accepted, and the experience has been world changing,” Jefferson-Gilpa said. “For my daughter seen as a leader and encouraged to do so on a collegiate level by experts in the field is tremendously valuable. It is also exceptional in contrast to much of her experience where she must constantly prove her worth and place in the field.”

While GenCyber is organized by the Girl Scouts, the camp is open to any middle or high school girl in Riverside or San Bernardino counties. To that end, Raleigh and Hawley partnered with the Riverside Unified School District and the Girl Scouts Beyond Bars program to increase awareness about cybersecurity in underserved communities and start those students on a pathway toward a stable and well-paying job in the cybersecurity field.

Raleigh hopes this is the first step in a long partnership with community organizations.

“I talked with one of the chaperones, and she said it was an amazing experience for the girls,” Raleigh said. “They had never really talked about their future, but saw that they could go to college and saw that there were people who look like them doing these careers.”

The program also embraces students with disabilities. The demand for cybersecurity careers is large and growing by the day; it’s going to take people from all walks of life to meet the need. Cyber careers are also uniquely suited to some disabilities, as student Emma Shanks learned at GenCyber.

“Because she is deaf, my girl scout Emma uses the internet and chat rooms for much of her communication with the ‘hearing world’,” said Melissa Stark, Shanks’ girl scout troop leader. “I’m so thankful for GenCyber offering opportunity for all abilities of girls to attend so Emma can gain the skills to be safe online and when sharing information about herself. Her confidence has grown and she feels included and accepted.”

After the success they’ve seen thus far, Raleigh expects the GenCyber program to grow even more in the years to come. Even if attendees do not end up pursuing careers in technology, the skills they are learning will help them lead safer lives online.

“We are teaching girls about the world around them, and that world is changing,” Raleigh said. “They know how to use technology, but they don’t know how to protect themselves and how the choices they’re making now can impact them down the road.”

For more information about GenCyber, visit gen-cyber.com. For more information about the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council, visit www.gssgc.org.

GSCHCarrie Raleigh and Knea Hawley

 

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Fraumann2It’s that human element where Fraumann really shines. She has a background in marketing and knows the importance of telling a good story to get a message across. During the course of her time at Securing our eCity, she’s spoken to elementary school students, senior citizens, and the business community – effectively, everyone.

“What I’ve found over the years is that people really want to talk about their issues,” Fraumann said. “I always try to talk about how cyber security impacts everyone and how it relates to their specific areas of concern.”

For example, online school grading systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks, something most teachers and students don’t think about when entering student data in them. And, parents might not realize that giving their phone to a toddler could lead to disastrous consequences if it’s not secured correctly.

When it comes to cyber competitions, Fraumann is a big believer in the concept of gamification and putting cyber activities on the same level as other sports. In fact, everyone who participated in the Securing our eCity Cyber Boot Camp this year received a cyber letterman’s jacket — just like a jock would receive on the high school sports team.

She’s also worked with the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America to add a cyber security patch as a credential for scouts to earn. These efforts are essential to making cyber competitions and cybers ecurity education part of the mainstream and available to all students, not just the stereotypical STEM focused student or students from affluent backgrounds.

“Cyber security is an issue that touches all of us. Organizations like ours can become part of the the solution,” Fraumann said. “When you are able to break down those barriers, it’s amazing to watch the students and the sense of pride they have.”

Alan Watkins was the IT Operations and Security Manager for the City of San Diego when Securing our eCity was formed. He met Fraumann in 2010 and was immediately taken by Fraumann’s understanding of cyber security and her ability to make the public aware of its potential implications.

“Although some of her team members appeared to be sales oriented, I could tell Liz was more of a visionary and passionate about the concept of increasing awareness of cyber security for individuals, families, and businesses,” Watkins said.

Over the years of working with her, Watkins saw that enthusiasm continue to grow. While many people tend to focus on the scary aspects of cyber security, Fraumann tends to take a more encouraging tone.

“I see a passion in Liz for both cyber and kids – helping them see their own potential and directing them into healthy and legal avenues for cyber rather than saying ‘beware of the dark side,’” Watkins said. “I would like to think that all the kids she has encouraged over the last several years would look to her as their cyber hero for providing them with the opportunity to explore the field of cyber security in an environment of fun competition.”

Emily Le is one of those students Fraumann has inspired. They met when Le was a student at Mira Mesa Senior High School participating in cyber boot camp. Le heard Fraumann give a presentation on professional development and one of the things that stuck out to her was the advice never to be afraid to ask for opportunities.

Le took that advice to heart and approached Fraumann after the presentation to ask for an internship. Fraumann said yes and spent two summers working for Securing our eCity. She’s now attending UC San Diego and said the experience with Fraumann provided the training and the confidence she needed to obtain internships at NASA and Northrop Grumman.

“When you talk to her you get super excited about cyber security,” Le said. “When I was working for her I asked if she planned on retiring and she said she wouldn’t because it was her passion.”

While Fraumann’s work over the past decade have been successful, she knows it’s not enough. She sees an opportunity to take the cyber cup model nationwide and have California serve as a model for other states on how to conduct cyber security training and education programs.

“We need to have some things that reach all the way into primary grades,” she said. “I would love to take our program and have it nationally accepted in all schools and then take it anywhere in the world it’s willing to go.”

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