HAMMOND, Ind. — Purdue University Northwest kicked off a program for high school students and teachers Monday on cybersecurity.

The program, called GenCyber, is designed to help educators develop curriculum for students to understand correct and safe online behavior, increase diversity and interest in cybersecurity and increase awareness about careers in the cybersecurity workforce.

Students are being immersed in hands-on labs, game-play challenges and cyber forensics cases. There are two week-long camps for students June 12-16 and June 19-23. The camp for teachers will be July 17-21.

Instructor Ge Jin, who is a PNW associate professor of computer information technology and graphics, said many cyber threats affect students and teachers.

“If someone is fishing or sending you an email from something that you don’t recognize, don’t open it,” he said.

“Today, we play a lot of computer games. It’s important to be careful about cyber attacks. It’s important to have a proper defense mechanism for different cyber attacks. We will be creating five or six different types of attacks as a game and teaching students how to develop defense mechanisms against them.”

Jin said students also will be learning about robotic programming and do forensic analysis on computers.

“The students will learn about hacking and they’ll have to sign a paper saying they will not use those skills to hack into someone else,” Jin said.

Hobart High School sophomore Sarah Spalding said she hadn’t taken a computer class like this before.

“I really like it,” she said Tuesday. “I didn’t know we would be learning about animation. I thought it was just about hacking and computer security. We’re making games and robots, and it’s really fun. There was so much information on Monday. We really learned a lot.”

Spalding said initially she wanted to be a surgeon or athletic trainer but also is now considering computer information technology.

Valparaiso High School senior Grace Tam said she is learning about how to create the characters and eventually will be able to design and code her own games. “I’m also taking a robotics class next year and I’m pretty excited about what we’re learning in here,” said the teen who plans to major in mechanical engineering.

Derrick Swart, a Hammond Academy of Science and Technology senior, said he learned a little about programming and code in an engineering class at school. He said he plans to major in computer information technology.

Source: The (Northwest Indiana) Times, http://bit.ly/2t2KyXP

Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Northwest Indiana) Times.

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