On Saturday, February 2, the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) co-hosted a cyber security-themed Women in Computing workshop, in collaboration with the National Coalition of 100 Black Women (NC100BW) – Pennsylvania Chapter, an organization that advocates on behalf of black women and girls through strategic alliances that promote gender equity in health, education, and economic empowerment.
Seventeen high school students and their family members attended the half-day event, during which they had the opportunity to meet current CCI students and faculty and participate in hands-on software and hardware demonstrations.
In the morning, Associate Professor Michelle Rogers introduced a select group of CCI Dean’s Ambassadors who gave presentations to the audience, sharing their experience as CCI students and some of the most impressive projects they've worked on. The high school students then split from their parents for a hands-on demonstration of Shodan with Cyber Security Associate Teaching Professor Thomas Heverin, PhD. Shodan is a search engine for internet-connected devices, and Heverin showed students how it can be used as part of the reconnaissance phase of ethical hacking.
During the lunch hour, Special Agent Cerena J. Coughlin gave a presentation about STEM career opportunities in the FBI, including special opportunities just for students like the Honors Internship Program and Collegiate Hiring Initiative. She also shared stories from her own career and explained how the rise of technology has altered the FBI’s priorities. Protecting the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes is the FBI’s third most pressing priority, closely following counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. Because society is increasingly reliant on technology, the need for trained cyber security experts is rapidly escalating.
Coughlin explained that criminal justice isn’t the only educational background found at the FBI because the Bureau requires people with diverse skills and areas of expertise, including cyber security. The most important trait for anyone interested in working for the FBI, according to Coughlin, is a passion for giving back to their community.
During the final session of the day, the high school students took part in a hands-on Arduino activity with Deans Ambassadors and DUCSTeach, a student organization that introduces middle and high school students to computer science and STEM-related fields. The activity demonstrated how modern day rear view car cameras can work by developing them on a micro level. The students utilized ultrasonic modules to program the range within which sensors could detect an object, up to 150 feet, and demonstrated just how precise the sensors can be, detecting down to inches.
When asked for a comment on NC100BW's involvement with organizing the event, Elleanor Jean Hendley (Education Committee Chair), Meva Justice, and Sharon Guess (STEM Project Co-Chairs) replied, "The NC100BW - Pennsylvania Chapter was excited to collaborate with the Drexel College of Computing & Informatics in presenting the Women in Computing Workshop. This workshop successfully fulfilled our goal to introduce a STEM education and career path to students who otherwise might not have had access to this information."
Learn more about Drexel's Women in Computing Initiative and stay tuned for our next high school workshop by visiting our events page.