High School Students Learn Cybersecurity in UWF Summer Camp

Pensacola Zackery Christensen hopes to become a cyberspace operations officer in the U.S. Air Force. So, a five-day camp at the University of West Florida for area high school students that focused on cybersecurity was a perfect fit for him.

“I was really excited about getting into this,” said Christensen, 17, who will be a senior next year at Gulf Breeze High School. “I think it would benefit all schools if we focused more on cybersecurity.”

The UWF Pathways to Cyber Summer Camp, hosted by the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, was held July 18-22 at the University’s Pensacola campus. The camp was free and open to students entering grades 10-12 who had an interest in cybersecurity.

The camp provided students with hands-on training in cybersecurity and an introduction to the Linux operating system.

“A big part of the computer science field and cyber is learning the Linux operating system,” said Anthony Pinto, a lecturer at UWF, who taught the camp.

Pinto said one of the early focuses of the camp was teaching students about the principles of cyber ethics.

Students in the Pathways to Cyber camp at the University of West Florida pose for picture outside.
The camp was hosted by the UWF Center for Cybersecurity and offered to students entering grades 10-12 who had an interest in cybersecurity.

“I’ve learned basic networking. I’ve learned how people function and how to defend myself from people trying to trick me,” said Levi Shaffer, 16, a junior at Tate High School, who plans to pursue a career in computer science.

Students also learned about cybersecurity educational programs and career paths.

“I learned a lot of stuff at this camp, and I think this is a great opportunity. I hope it can become available for more students in the future,” Christensen said.

The Center for Cybersecurity is also offering an all-day cybersecurity workshop for middle and high school teachers on Aug. 1.

Our Pathways to Cyber Student Camp was a huge success,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity. “The students had a great time learning Cybersecurity First Principles, practicing their cybersecurity skills in our Battle Lab, and being mentored by UWF cybersecurity faculty, students and industry experts. We hope to expand our Pathways to Cyber Program to include more students in future years.”