Scholarship competition aims to attract high schoolers to cyber career

Monday - 12/19/2011, 11:53am EST

Julie Peeler, Director, (ISC)2 Foundation

Download mp3

By Jolie Lee
@jleewfed
Federal News Radio

A cybersecurity nonprofit is trying to attract the next generation of cybersecurity professionals — starting as early as high school.

The International Informations Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. — or (ISC)2 — has awarded five scholarships as part of a cybersecurity challenge for high schoolers. The organization works with the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a national public-private coalition.

As of last year, the cyber workforce numbered 2.28 million globally and was expected to increase to 4.2 million by 2015, according to an (ISC)2 cyber workforce study conducted by Frost & Sullivan.

"Those jobs definitely need to be filled," said Julie Peeler, director of the (ISC)2 Foundation, in an interview with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris.

The high school competition helps raise awareness about a potential job in cybersecurity, Peeler said.

"I think cybersecurity is one of those things that is essentially hidden when you're a youngster ... You see the local fireman, you see the local policeman, you see the doctor, you see the teacher. But you certainly never see a cybersecurity expert," she said.

This year, about 2,000 high schoolers participated in the challenge in October and November. They learned cyber lessons and then took online quizzes until the pool narrowed to the top five scoring students. The top scholarship award was $2,500, with scholarships of $1,500, $1,000, $750 and $500 for the other four winners.

The competition mirrors what the student would eventually face when it comes time for them to become certified cyber professionals, Peeler said.

"We really ran them through their paces," she said. "They understand quite extensively what's going on in cybersecurity."

RELATED STORIES

High schoolers win scholarships in cyber challenge

NSA kicks in scholarship funds to boost cyber challenge

More cybersecurity stories