On July 27 at West Potomac High School, NOVA SySTEMic Solutions had the privilege to recognize AT&T Services, Inc. (AT&T), Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) and Ft. Belvoir for their contributions in enhancing STEM camp opportunities for underrepresented students from Mt. Vernon High School. Representatives from each organization were on hand to show support and offer their insights and advice to students who are prospective members of the future STEM workforce.
The focus of the guest speakers was on the cybersecurity needs for the region, highlighting the vital need for programming and cyber personnel in the workforce and for national defense. AT&T led the way with a $10,000 contribution to enable hands-on robotics (with a programming focus) and cybersecurity camps for 9th through 12th graders from July 18 to 29.
LaTara Harris, AT&T regional director of external and legislative affairs, addressed camp students with encouragement about their future, “Leverage the gifts that you have and consider a career in STEM. It’s an absolute priority for our company. We’ve invested over $350 million in ensuring that more students are exposed to the STEM fields. The jobs in cybersecurity are beyond vast by the time you get out.”
On the government side, Lt. Colonel Christopher Tomlinson from Ft. Belvoir illustrated the numerous cybersecurity opportunities available in the military and why it is important, “Cyber is becoming its own domain, its own environment. We’re going to take a whole host of individuals and turn them into cyber professionals operating in that domain, going after threats to networks and information. We’re going to do that in collaboration with educators and industry. That creates power and synergy and you guys are the focus for that.”
The cybersecurity camp specifically provided students with hands-on experience in networking and computer security, cyber ethics and defense strategies through hands-on activities. Through the visit of these accomplished professionals students had a great introduction to career opportunities through different types of networking and gained contacts for possible future employment and internships. After the presentation all the guest speakers stayed to speak with students one on one.
If a career is not yet on the radar for these young minds, NOVA provides a bridge to the professional world. NOVA has a strong cybersecurity presence, and SySTEMic Solutions Acting Director Chad Knights was truly excited about what this means for students considering a future in STEM.
“NOVA is a leader in cybersecurity education. We offer an A.A.S. in cybersecurity that will ensure you receive training in the hard skills needed to become employable in the field. Even if you are planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree, NOVA is a great place to start,” Knights said. “NOVA’s A.A.S. in cybersecurity transfers in full to five institutions including George Washington, Marymount and George Mason. As you plan for your future, NOVA is an outstanding local resource available to you. We are dedicated to your success and are here to help you achieve your dreams.”