WEST WILKES HIGH SCHOOL
AWARD YEAR: 2021
WEST WILKES HIGH SCHOOL
DIRECTOR: JENNIFER RAE LEBLANC
PROJECT TITLE: SECURING THE FUTURE - A CRYPTOLOGY/CYBERSECURITY EXPERIENCE FOR RURAL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Securing the Future is a year-long cryptology/cybersecurity experience that emphasizes leadership and inclusion in computing. The program is designed to encourage 10th-12th grade students in rural Appalachia to pursue careers in cybersecurity, computer science, or applied mathematics. Throughout the year participants have the opportunity to engage in hands-on problem solving challenges, develop their ability to collaborate on difficult tasks, and gain valuable leadership experience in STEM. Although careers like computer science and cybersecurity are receiving national recognition as fast growing, high paying careers, students in our region often don’t consider these as options for their future. This program is designed to cultivate interest and confidence in students who are traditionally underrepresented in technology and computer science fields. Recruitment for the program will specifically target female, minority, and rural students. Appalachian State University and InfusionPoints, a local cybersecurity firm, are partnering with West Wilkes High School (WWHS) to lend expertise and real world connections to the program activities. The program activities include: a team-building/leadership boot camp, six cryptology challenge workshops, trips to Appalachian State and InfusionPoints, three challenge events, and a two week travel study to the NSA in Maryland, the Bletchley Park Codes Centre in England, and the Enigma Center in Poland. The intent of the program is to create an exciting, inclusive, team environment that encourages all students to discover their full potential as collaborators and leaders in STEM. The program activities are designed to challenge students to overcome obstacles, use teamwork, and persist in solving problems. Challenge and hackathon activities are a unique mix of problem solving and code breaking challenges in a style similar to competitions such as The Great American Treasure Hunt, The Secret, and The Amazing Race. A vital component of the program is creating an inclusive STEM community with a global outlook. The goal is for each participant to realize that their input adds value to their team, community, and society as a whole. Security in computing is of national and global importance and equity in computing is key to diverse contributions to the computing world.