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Cyber ​​​​Camp helps teens improve safety skills – USC Upstate

Students and faculty from USC Upstate Summer Cyber ​​​​Camp are pictured on the Upstate Greenville campus.

Smartphones, Ring doorbells, home Wi-Fi, garage door openers, and even baby monitors—the number of gadgets susceptible to cyberhacking is growing by the day. As technology advances, so does the need to educate future cybersecurity professionals.

Several area high school students had the opportunity to test their skills at the first-ever USC Upstate Summer Cyber ​​Camp in June, held at the Upstate Crime Analysis Center (UCAC) on the Upstate Greenville campus. Using the AFA CyberPatriot curriculum, faculty introduced the fundamentals of cybersecurity and highlighted careers available to students interested in cybersecurity, IT and related STEM fields.

“The CyberPatriot program has a long history of inspiring young people to pursue STEM careers, and when we realized there were only three other programs in South Carolina offering it, we knew we had a great opportunity,” said Michele Covington, director of the Upstate Crime Analysis Center. “Community service is an important part of USC Upstate’s mission as a regional comprehensive university, and we had a great week engaging these talented area high school students.”

The CyberPatriot curriculum includes intensive lessons on computer hardware, cyber ethics, virtual threats, security tools and programming basics for Windows, Linux and Ubuntu. On the fifth day of camp, students competed in the same CyberPatriot challenges as students from across the county.

The experience also allows high school students to learn from Melissa Davis, who directs the USC Upstate Cyber ​​Lab. Davis noted, “I challenged the students in a similar way that I challenge the USC Upstate students I teach. They got to experience what it’s like to sit in a college classroom and connect with content that could lead to a future career.”

Melissa Davis, director of the Cybersecurity Lab, teaches students at the USC Upstate Summer Cyber ​​​​Camp.

USC Upstate Greenville also invited professionals, many of whom are Upstate alumni, to speak to students about IT consulting, cyber and intellectual property law, criminal justice and IT recruiting. Intelli-Net, a local IT firm led by USC Upstate alumnus Derek Davis and the title sponsor of the program, encouraged students to explore internship and career opportunities with the firm in the future. Program sponsor Kim, Lahey and Killough Law Firm showed how cybersecurity impacts areas beyond IT.

Thanks to these two sponsors, USC Upstate was able to provide scholarships that ensured equal access to camp.

Derek Davis and several members of his team joined the students for a luncheon celebrating the program’s completion. “There’s a lot of talk about connecting business with education,” he said. “This camp went beyond the conversation to facilitate the actual connection. And it gave our team a new lease on life, to see the field through their eyes.”

To reserve your spot at Summer Cyber ​​​​Camp 2025, contact Camp Coordinator Carrie Silver at [email protected]. Be one of the first to receive registration information.

About CyberPatriot

The National Youth Cyber ​​​​Education Program is an Air & Space Forces Association STEM program. It was created to inspire students in grades K-12 to pursue careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines that are critical to our country’s future. AFA CyberCamps are designed for high school and middle school students who are new to cybersecurity or have knowledge of the subject and want to learn more. Camps are hosted by approved organizations and institutions that register with the CyberPatriot Program Office. Participants in a standard CyberCamp do not need to have prior knowledge of cybersecurity to participate. Some basic knowledge of computer hardware (the ability to use a mouse, browse the Internet, recognize common computer icons, etc.) is helpful but not required.