Cybersecurity Interns Show Off Newfound Skills at Clark State Community College

by Cameron Hunter, Springfield News-Sun, Ohio / August 5, 2016

(TNS) — It's critical to train more people with cybersecurity skills in a world where the demand keeps rising, say leaders of a Clark State Community College internship program.

"Ten years ago, it was a brand new topic," said Cathy Balas, co-principal investigator of the internship program. "Now it's integrated throughout the curriculum."

Clark State held its annual Summer Intern Showcase on Thursday. The two-hour showcase summed up the nine week program that included about 20 Clark County and Springfield high school and college students.

The student internships and faculty externships were sponsored through an Advanced Technological Education grant from the National Science Foundation given to Clark State.

This is the final year of the grant, which provided faculty and students with advanced training and hands-on experiences in the field of cybersecurity.

Former interns, faculty and family filled the auditorium in Applied Science Center, including state Rep. Kyle Koehler, a local manufacturer and life-long resident of Clark County.

"It's important for Springfield and Clark County to be heavily involved in the technology area. That's something we've missed in the past," he said. "This program gets students trained and to see that there are jobs available for them. That's huge."

He stressed the importance of having technological programs available for students early in their educational careers and at the community college level. A lot of the problems Koehler said he's seen at the state level stem from money that goes into college education for degrees that people can't use.

"They're getting out of college and they can't find a job," he said. "This kind of a program lets them see some hands on vocational work they can do with their degree. It's not a theoretical job. It's a real job."

The winners of Hack-A-Thon, a two-day showcase that pitted the interns against each other to test their skills in cyberhacking, were announced Thursday.

The winning group reveled in the moment.

"It felt really great," said Connor Cox, one of the members of the winning team. "This is such an awesome thing to do. It was great to compete against everybody I got to know over the summer. This was an amazing opportunity and I wouldn't have changed a thing."

Past summer intern Daniel Nelson was one of several former participants who attended Thursday.

"It definitely gave me a lot of networking opportunities and it solidified my interest in the field," Nelson said.

Going forward Clark State will look to continue the summer internships once the grant runs out, Balas said.

"We'll find ways to sustain what's going on through a variety of sources," she said. "I think there's enough local support to sustain the effort."

©2016 Springfield News-Sun, Ohio, distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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