Nearly 100 students, teachers, and representatives of government agencies and the cybersecurity industry gathered at an Industry Night at Regis University in October to discuss how to develop Colorado’s cybersecurity workforce.

Sponsored by CyberWatch West, the dinner meeting was an opportunity for planning by the cybersecurity working group that grew out of the initial Industry Night hosted by Regis University and CyberWatch West last May. The event focused on ways to encourage students (especially female students) to pursue careers in cybersecurity.

The group made plans to collaborate on a CyberGirlz workshop to be held at Regis University in March 2017. Organizers are looking for sponsors and volunteers for the event, particularly women in STEM fields who can serve as role models.

Guests at the October 11 event enjoyed a panel discussion featuring women working on cybersecurity issues or in cybersecurity education:

  • Jory Maes, Colorado’s Infrastructure Protection Program Manager with the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Analyn Alquitran, coach of Rangeview High School’s CyberPatriot team, which reached the National Finals in 2014
  • Jocelyn Nguyen-Reed, coach of the Cherry Creek High School CyberPatriot team that placed second in the Open Division of the 2016 national competition

School districts from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs sent students and teachers to Denver to attend the event and learn how to get involved in cybersecurity summer camps and competitions like CyberPatriot. The panelists emphasized that competitions aren’t just about winning, but about students developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will serve them well no matter what careers they choose.

Associate Professor Dan Likarish of Regis University, who co-facilitated the event with CyberWatch West Co-PI Dr. Dan Manson, attributed the excellent turnout to support from the Denver chapters of the ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) and the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).

These associations encourage local firms to support employees who coach teams or mentor students, Professor Likarish said. Such support can take the form of continuing professional education (CPE) hours or paid time off for community service.

The local chapters of ISACA and ISSA are also discussing ways to support female students’ attendance at the Rocky Mountain Information Security Conference (RMISC), May 9-11, 2017 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.