High school students attend Cybersecurity Symposium at Northern Michigan University

MARQUETTE — A symposium took place on Friday, November 8, on the campus of Northern Michigan University to teach high school students about cybersecurity.

The NMU Cybersecurity Symposium Kickoff was held at the Northern Center from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. More than 130 area high school students attended the symposium to get hands–on experience in activities such as web hacking and defending or infiltrating secure network systems.

Bryan DeAugustine, Superintendent for NICE Community Schools, says that the main purpose of Friday’s symposium was to expose high school students to potential career paths in cybersecurity.

“We’re seeing that in the world of cybersecurity there are upwards of 800,000 job openings and $50 trillion worth of technology to be protected, along with billions of dollars worth of earning,” said DeAugustine. “We think that for some kids it could be the right career path for them. It gives them an incredible opportunity to go out there and live wherever they want and work for companies like IBM, or they could work for some of our local companies like LucidCoast and Compudyne. So they get to see what’s out there for their futures after they graduate from high school.”

Representatives from several companies attended the symposium as well to talk with students and answer questions. Keith Glendon of IBM says that even if students aren’t planning to go into cybersecurity as a career, understanding technology is critical for young people in today’s world.

“I think hackers will save the world,” said Glendon. “And whether a kid goes into cybersecurity or not, understanding how to think critically about problems and understanding how technology works is important. Every kid has a phone in their pocket, but very few know how it actually works and about the underlying structure of the internet in terms of opening themselves to risks. Even if a kid’s not going to be a professional hacker or go into cybersecurity, these are the types of skills that will help them succeed in the world.”

Along with the high school symposium this afternoon, the Northern Center also hosted a Cybersecurity Health Care Summit for adults. At that summit, attendees learned about the importance of cybersecurity in the realm of health care. Speakers for the Cybersecurity Health Care Summit met with high school students toward the end of the day’s events to provide any interested students with additional information.