COLUMBUS – Ivy Tech Community College Columbus hosted the Air Force Association’s CyberCamp Program in June with 17 local middle school and high school students participating in the week-long camp.

This fall, local schools have the opportunity to host a complementary CyberPatriot team to continue developing students’ interests in cyber security and information technology.

Ivy Tech Columbus hosted the AFA CyberCamp, which was taught by Ivy Tech computing faculty Conni Chasteen, Louis Vician, and Pam Schmelz. Schmelz, Ivy Tech Columbus Department Chair for the School of Information Technology, decided to run this camp to introduce middle school and high school students to cyber security and IT fields.

“IT is an industry where there are jobs for everyone,” Schmelz said. “You don’t have to just focus on programming, networking, or hardware any more. There are high-paying jobs in all aspects of Information Technology in every type of business.”

As an AFA CyberCamp host, Ivy Tech Columbus received software and a hands-on curriculum kit designed to teach students cyber safety, cyber ethics, and critical network security skills and tools. The AFA CyberCamp culminated in an exciting team-based competition that puts the campers in the role of IT administrators tasked with finding and addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in simulated network environments.

“The participation in this camp was much better than we expected,” Chasteen said. “We were excited to have so many kids ranging in age from sixth grade to senior in high school, and about just as many girls as boys.”

Local schools can continue to develop students’ interests in cyber security and information technology by hosting a CyberPatriot team in the fall. The CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program was created by the Air Force Association in 2009 to attract students to cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future.

In addition to the annual National Youth Cyber Defense Competition and the new AFA CyberCamp program, CyberPatriot has three other programs for various age groups. The Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative (ESCEI) was designed to introduce young students to online safety. The Cyber Education Literature Series was created to teach younger children about cyber safety with the debut of the illustrated Children’s book: Sarah the Cyber Hero. The newest program for CyberPatriot is CyberGenerations: a senior citizens guide to cyber safety that will premiere in late spring 2018.

To learn more about CyberPatriot, visit

“We appreciate the support and encouragement from our leadership team here at Ivy Tech that allowed us to host such a successful camp,” Schmelz said. “It was a great experience, and we hope our local middle schools and high schools will consider building on this exciting endeavor.”

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is the state's largest public post-secondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

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