By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley) – About 200 Girl Scouts from middle schools throughout San Bernardino County learned about cyber security, deciphering codes and how to design and create model airplane gliders during a hands-on engineering and technology event at Cal State San Bernardino on Dec. 17.
“Cyber Pathways for Middle School Girls” was designed to show middle school female students and underrepresented minorities to the fields of engineering, cyber security and ongoing computer programs at Cal State San Bernardino.
“We want to show what Cal State San Bernardino and our students are all about, and also we are investing in the cyber security leaders of tomorrow,” said Tony Coulson, a professor in the university’s Information and Decision Sciences program and director of the CSUSB Cyber Security Center.
The event’s focus on females was to help reverse the low numbers of women in science-related fields, including cyber security, Coulson said.
“Nationwide, 13 percent of girls are in cyber-science-related fields. At CSUSB, our cyber security program is 35 percent. Often times, girls get hired first, not because they are female, but because they are that good in cybersecurity,” Coulson said.
Nathalie Rodriguez-Martinez of Parkview Middle School was working with two other students measuring clay to put on the noses of gliders, designed by computers, that they were building.
“It’s so cool,” Rodriquez-Martinez said. “We worked with computers last year. I’m looking forward to flying the gliders.”
Her fellow student Faith Kinzle, also from Parkview Middle School, called it “a good experience. It’s good to be here to learn about this.”
Quinn Benitez of Mesa View Middle School in Cabazon said she was interested in robotics and had learned how to code and write htmls, the computer language used by many websites.
The event was sponsored by CSUSB’s Cyber Security Center, the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio and the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) in Bossier City, La.
The students received an overview of engineering and technology concepts to create their own drone gliders, and completed a cyber-obstacle course that involved creating passwords and breaking codes.
To help at the event, more than 40 current CSUSB students and faculty served as volunteers.
The event included speakers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In addition, staff members from CSUSB’s Admissions and Student Recruitment office talked about college readiness and opportunities available to those who are considering Cal State San Bernardino.
The training continues today, Thursday, Dec. 18, Coulson said, as volunteers work with 36 teachers from throughout San Bernardino County and the city of Riverside, using many of the same approaches for the teachers to use in their classrooms.
“Our goal is to have these teachers learn how to implement these various modules into their curriculum,” he said.