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UMSL Hosts "Best Field Trip Ever" for Web and CISCO Students

UMSL Hosts “Best Field Trip Ever” for Web and CISCO Students

University of Missouri – St. Louis hosted an exciting, engaging cybersecurity event for our Web & Computer Programming and CISCO Networking Academy students last week which has been deemed the “best field trip ever” by those who attended.

In an effort to aid in building the pipeline of cybersecurity talent, UMSL has been hosting these seminars to give high school students the unique opportunity to exercise their skills in a challenging security/hacking, Jeopardy style challenge called “Capture the Flag” (CTF). Regardless of skill level, students who participate gain confidence and understanding about the world of cybersecurity. Dr. Shaji Khan, director of the Cybersecurity Institute and assistant professor of information systems, described the program’s purpose: “We engage the students in a CTF with varying levels of difficulty and let them participate as teams. We start with some quick discussion on security issues, pentesting in general and then let them work on our new platform”. He led the event along with Dr. Dinesh Mirchandani, professor of Information Systems and chair of the Information Systems Department, along with assistance from several of their graduate students.

Web and Computer Programming instructor Patti Venturella describes CTF as “ethical hacking”. “In order to help companies keep their data secure, students are taught hacking in a safe testing environment,” she said. “The conversations that followed (the event) on the bus and in the classroom were fantastic and bringing both our programming and networking students allowed them all to see how their skill sets will work together in these careers.” India Booth, Web & Computer Programming senior said the CTF “ was challenging but I love the creativity.” Miles Burnett from CISCO said “it was a very interesting field trip! The directors enlightened us on the many opportunities in the IT field.”

Cybersecurity remains one of the most promising, growth oriented career fields in the computer science pathway. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states job growth over the next decade in this field will increase 28% faster than average and quotes median salaries from $67,000 up to $115,000 dependant upon the level of education attained. Increased demand and promising wages are leading to more student interest in high school and college level IT security programs. Jobs in this field continue to go unfilled as a talent shortage and a lack of diversity in the IT workforce create barriers.

UMSL’s CTF events are providing students with a fun way to begin exploring these careers. They will also host a regional STLCyberCon event on November 16th at the JC Penney Conference Center on UMSL’s campus. More details can be found on their website,

North Tech is currently accepting applications for Fall of 2019 for both Web & Computer Programming and CISCO Networking Academy. Interested students should apply online via our website.

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