Q&A: How the National Security Agency is Building the Next Generation of Cyber Stars

EDTECH: What is your background, and how did you get involved with GenCyber?

Greeley: I have 15 years of classroom experience, including teaching Advanced Placement U.S. history and U.S. government, and I spent about 20 years coaching basketball. GenCyber launched in 2014 as a pilot, and I started working with them in a support role in 2015.

I love teaching, and I wasn’t looking to leave the classroom, but I grew to love cybersecurity education. Since 2018, I’ve worked at the National Cryptologic School at the NSA.

EDTECH: What is the goal of GenCyber?

Greeley: GenCyber is a federally supported program that gives grants to postsecondary institutions to host student, teacher or student/teacher programs in cybersecurity. We’re looking at a shortfall of about half a million cybersecurity positions in the United States. So, this program works to make better cybersecurity citizens and, hopefully, teach students who are interested in cybersecurity that there is a career out there for them.

One of the greatest things about cybersecurity is that it is multidisciplinary. It’s for STEM students, but also for liberal arts-minded students. A lot of times, GenCyber is the first touchpoint for students and teachers in cybersecurity.

FIND OUT MORE: How can OpSec benefit K–12 schools and district leaders?

EDTECH: What is the format of the camp?

Greeley: My favorite part of GenCyber is that every program looks different because it is based on the local K–12 ecosystem. A GenCyber program in Northern Virginia is going to look a lot different than a GenCyber program in Iowa.

Each institution must have certain pillars. We require that they base their curriculum on six principles: confidentiality, integrity, availability, defense in depth, thinking like an adversary and keeping it simple. We also require that they teach cyber ethics, and they must have at least one unit on careers.

EDTECH: How long are the camp sessions?

Greeley: Historically, they’ve been weeklong summer camps. We now require institutions to also host pre-camp and post-camp events. We’re trying to build more year-round engagement, particularly since we know that K–12 cybersecurity opportunities for students…