One million jobs – unfilled.

This is what global industry faces in the cyber technology community, with industry nonprofit ISACA reporting that there will be a shortage of 2 million cyber professionals by 2019. Last week local students got a leg up on the competition when they attended a weeklong cyber camp at New Century Technology High School.

Huntsville City Schools’ annual Summer Cyber Camp kicked off June 12 for rising seventh to 12th graders. Limited to 75 students, the campers follow curriculum from the Air Force Association, while also having leading industry professionals and local leaders speak to them each day. 

During the kick off, the students heard from Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Matt Akin, with Garrison Commander Col. Tom Holliday representing Redstone Arsenal and SAIC’s John Gully representing SAIC in their role as principle partner with HCS for cyber education. Akin, who out of 135 Alabama school systems is the only superintendent who has taught computer science, shared with the kids that “cyber was not even a word” when he first started, and that what they would learn through the week could serve as a springboard for their academic careers.

Wednesday, the students attended a panel consisting of local cyber experts, including several members of Team Redstone. Participating in the panel were Dr. Dawn Dunkerley, Army Materiel Command; Steve Mills, Defense Acquisition University; and Brad Horton, Threat Systems Management Office.

The cyber professionals shared their own career paths, while talking about what being a cyber professional is in reality versus how it is portrayed by Hollywood.

“Any movie that you see hacking in, it is probably not true,” Horton said. “It is a lot less sexy than the movies make it.”

The one piece of advice that all members of the panel stressed to the students was that in their line of work, integrity is paramount and the choices they make now can influence their futures in a positive or negative way -- especially since many cyber jobs require a high clearance level. As all members were representing the federal government, they talked about how cyber professionals can serve their country.

“There is a war going on in cyberspace and we are fighting it every day,” Mills told the students.

Friday, the students, under the tutelage of Alabama’s top CyberPatriot team and cyber instructors, participated in a competition for trophies and cash prizes.

“This event represents the very best that can happen when Team Redstone comes together to improve and enhance educational opportunities for our local students and support future workforce requirements in the region. I’m glad SAIC could play a leading role,” Bob Lott, SAIC lead for the SAIC-HCS cyber partnership, said.

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