Bay Ridge

Fontbonne students get valuable lessons in cyber security

September 15, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo courtesy Fontbonne Hall Academy
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Increasingly, students at the Catholic high school for girls in Bay Ridge are showing an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects that used to be dominated by males, according to school officials.

This past summer, five Fontbonne students took part in a special program offered by the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering that focused on computer science and cyber security.

The two-week, tuition-free program was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Security Agency and the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering. The program was offered in two sections, with 20 students participating in each session. The students were selected through a competitive application process.

The Introduction to Computer Science and Cyber Security course included lectures, hands-on projects and day trips to the offices of Google and Facebook to prepare the students for the nationwide CSAW High School Cyber Forensics Challenge, an annual competition hosted annually by NYU Poly.

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Fontbonne Principal Mary Ann Spicijaric said she is excited to be sending an all-girl team in the challenge.

“This team is another way that Fontbonne is introducing our students to the multitude of career options available to them when they have strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering or mathematics,” she said.

During the summer program, students had the opportunity to meet women working in the computer science and cyber security fields and to consider those fields as possible career options. 

“The program opened my eyes to some exciting real-world applications of the work we were doing in the classroom,” Fontbonne senior Josette Tugander said.

“Cyber security has not been seen as a traditional career option for women and we are so happy to work with NYU-Polytechnic to change that perception,” Spicijaric said. “Girls interested in STEM have amazing futures waiting for them,” 

The Cyber Forensics Challenge will take place Nov. 13-15 at MetroTech Center. The events will include “Capture the Flag,” in which high school students will work as “hackers” and try to break into a secure site and “High School Forensics,” in which students will be asked to solve a cyber mystery. There will also be a U.S. Department of Homeland Security quiz.

The competition, which attracts students from all over the country, is now in its 11th year.

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