National GenCyber Program Funds Two New TACC Cybersecurity Summer Camps in 2023

GenCyber@TACC, GenCyber@TACC Level UP camps available to students at no cost


    This summer, the Education & Outreach (E&O) team at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at UT Austin will host two cybersecurity camps — GenCyber@TACC and GenCyber@TACC Level UP.

    GenCyber@TACC (June 11-17) will introduce students to cybersecurity concepts, while GenCyber@TACC Level UP (July 23-29) will focus on more advanced students who want to improve their skills.

    TACC's cybersecurity summer camp was held virtually in 2021. This summer, two cybersecurity camps -- one for beginners and one for more advanced students -- will be held on the UT campus.

    Both camps will be held in-person at UT Austin. Applications for GenCyber@TACC close on April 17; for GenCyber@TACC Level UP, applications close on May 8. Both camps are open to all student participants at no cost.

    The two cybersecurity camps are made possible by funding from the GenCyber Program in the form of a $283,000 grant. The program seeks to ignite and sustain cybersecurity interest at the secondary level to build a competent, diverse, and adaptable cybersecurity workforce pipeline through alignment with the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C). The grant will be used for curriculum development, staffing, recruiting, and more.

    "GenCyber events are a great way to provide cybersecurity and computational thinking experiences to historically excluded students and participants," said E&O Senior Training Coordinator Edgar Garza, who will lead camp curriculum and activities. "Participants learn the skills they need to expand their career opportunities in cybersecurity, and I love to witness the positive impact these experiences have on students' educational journeys."

    "GenCyber events are a great way to provide cybersecurity and computational thinking experiences to historically excluded students and participants."
    E&O Senior Training Coordinator Edgar Garza

    The GenCyber Program is part of the National Security Agency.

    UT Dallas sophomore and Computer Science major Emilie Grace Baillo attended GenCyber@TACC 2021 and fondly remembers the experience.

    "I appreciated the exposure to both cybersecurity and career knowledge," Baillo said. "We used Python to gain experience with encrypting and decrypting passwords, which helped us defend our personal information. I love how these collaborative activities helped cultivate a safe and curious environment for students."

    E&O Program Manager Dawn Hunter (left) and Senior Training Coordinator Edgar Garza (right).

    Said E&O Program Manager Dawn Hunter: "My hope for every GenCyber@TACC camper is that at least one aspect of their online behavior changes for the better, whether that's them creating stronger passwords or protecting their parents from spam emails. The E&O team wants students to have the best experiences and see how technology intersects with their interests."

    Nikki Hendricks is a cybersecurity education specialist with the Expanding Pathways in Computing (EPIC) team at TACC. Hendricks, who launched a cybersecurity collaborative in June 2022, will serve as instructional support staff for the GenCyber camps. She also served as cybersecurity instructor at Code@TACC 2021, where she taught about the importance of managing your online presence, privacy, and security.

    "I am excited to work with the students at the GenCyber camps because they can take what they learn back to their schools and their communities," Hendricks said. "If we can start teaching our students cybersecurity now, we can arm them with the knowledge and defenses they need to be secure in this ever-changing digital landscape."