While I believe cybersecurity is an issue that everyone should be thinking more about, I also believe that young people in particular must appreciate the challenges it poses for their future.
That’s why I was honored to deliver the keynote address at the Rhode Island CyberPatriot Hack Con, a cybersecurity conference for middle and high school students. Part of a national effort undertaken by the Air Force to get young people excited about cybersecurity, CyberPatriot brings together teams from all fifty states for competitions that test their skills, connect them to mentors, and inspire them to pursue careers in science and technology. While this conference, held at the Providence Public Library, wasn’t an official competition, it was nonetheless attended by more than a hundred students, educators, and cybersecurity practitioners.
It was an honor to offer words of encouragement and thanks to such a large and excited crowd of current and future cybersecurity experts. With so many mentors and mentees in the audience, I encouraged students to ask their mentors about a challenge they overcame. This sort of exchange is so important because, while the industry is expanding rapidly, it is also a line of work that increasingly requires creativity and innovation.
Though not all students who participate in CyberPatriot end up working in cybersecurity, all of them develop useful technical skills and experience working together on teams. That said, I made sure to remind those students who did want to pursue careers in cybersecurity to consider applying to “CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service,” a government program that offers free tuition and a yearly stipend to students willing to go into government service for a few years after graduation.
With so many bright minds entering this field, I’m confident that our country will be able to continue taking advantage of our interconnected economy. This event was a great way to end my week-long #LangevinCybersecurity tour, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with our state’s cyber leaders to help protect Rhode Islanders.