Q: What’s driving the formation of the Alliance and why now?
A: Colorado Springs is a unique place. We have several military installations in this area and
plenty of companies that provide services to the different branches and departments of the
military. With all of the resources we have here, it only makes sense to add structure and
organization to all of these resources by providing cybersecurity leadership in the form of
services, training, community outreach and k-12 education. The NCC is also a place to network,
share resources, ideas and innovations that will help us build a strong cyber community.
Q: What makes the NCC and the region’s cyber ecosystem the unique organization and
location to do this?
A: Technology does not always announce the consequences of its existence. When we started
using computers, we did not think of the need to build applications and hardware that would
protect data than to steal data. We must balance that out. We are not there yet because we have a
high need for data security and a low supply of talented people to help protect that data. There’s
a not so quiet desperation in the cybersecurity industry to close that gap.
Q: How does the Alliance help support the development of the cyber workforce pipeline?
A: One of the reasons we have a shortage of cybersecurity professionals is we have a decline in
students enrolling in colleges and majoring in STEM courses. Children are not exposed to
cybersecurity early enough. It has always been my opinion, based on my own personal
experience, that exposing children early to cybersecurity increases their chance of developing
and maintaining interest throughout high school. And this increases the number of people
majoring in college STEM courses. When I’m asked when should students learn about computer
safety, my answer is always as soon as school. So, it makes sense to at least start in kindergarten.
Over time, this early exposure will make cybersecurity an important part of our cultural literacy
and that is exactly where we need to go with this.
Q: Why is this Alliance distinctive? Not just as a CTSO but compared to the other
programs out there developing tech and/or cyber talent?
A: There are other CTSOs that cover cybersecurity topics and events, but there not in any CTSO
that is dedicated solely to cybersecurity, except the National Cybersecurity Center Student
Alliance. By concentrating on tools, and methodologies than the other CTSOs which only covers
the basics. Being a member of the NCCSA prepares students for a future in cybersecurity better
than any other CTSO in the United States.
Q: Describe the necessity for and value of being integrated with the school systems.
A: CTSOs are structured to support and reinforce the curriculum that is being taught in school.
Of course, that is not always the case. There are schools across America with little opportunities
for students to be engaged a CTSOs is a great opportunity for schools to make up for lack of
STEM courses. But CTSOs alone are not enough to give students valuable class time in order to
learn structured classroom instruction plus CTSOs. Having schools, teachers and administrators
thoroughly engaged and committed to exposing students to cybersecurity resources is necessary
for our success.
Q: Students, sponsors and supporters…why should people get involved with the Alliance?
What impact will they have and create?
A: The NCC in general and the Student Alliance in particular, strives to engage the entire
community and help them become cyber literate. In order to be successful, an ecosystem has to
be formed, and the ecosystem consists of all aspects of our community. The United States ranks
38th out of 71 countries in math and science. I look to countries such as Estonia for inspiration
and best practices. Estonia has a coherent and aligned education system (based on PISA
ranking), including the policy that every student must receive the necessary knowledge and skills
to access modern digital infrastructure for future use. Estonia’s success in the digital revolution
can be seen in the educational landscape since twice as many students pursue IT careers in
Estonia than the average in other OECD countries. This is the direction we are going in.
JOIN THE ALLIANCE!
3650 N Nevada Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80907