From CyberCamp to Cybersecurity | Information Technology | University of Pittsburgh

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From CyberCamp to Cybersecurity

Kevin Fung and other CyberCamp students working with Pitt IT’s Jeff Raymond.

When every click and keystroke can seemingly open the door to hackers, the role of cybersecurity is more critical than ever. At the forefront of this digital frontier is Pitt senior Kevin Fung, an information science major in the School of Computing and Information and a junior security analyst with Pitt Information Technology.

It all started back in high school, when Fung heard about Pitt’s Air Force Academy CyberCamp. “Cybersecurity extracurriculars were really popular in my high school, and I’ve always wanted to work with computers,” Fung says. “Hearing about the CyberCamp sparked my interest even more.”

This One Time, at CyberCamp …

AFA CyberCamp is a one-week summer program that exposes high school students to different facets of cybersecurity. The camp enables student to gain security skills, learn about careers in technology, network with industry professionals, hone their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and more.  

CyberCamp has two levels: the Standard Camp teaches the basic principles of cyber ethics and systems security and requires no previous tech experience; the Advanced Camp builds upon those skills to cover more complex concepts around networking and systems security. Students use hands-on learning, with labs and activities built into each portion of the curriculum. On the final day, students work to find and fix vulnerabilities in a capture-the-flag-style competition.

“We need to build a pipeline of cybersecurity professionals. The cybersecurity field is continuing to grow, and we need more skilled professionals to address emerging threats,” says Kate Ulreich, a Pitt IT engagement leader who works with the Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security to bring CyberCamp to campus. “It has to start with providing opportunities to spark the interest of students.”

Seeing Where Tech Takes HimKevin Fung is now a senior at Pitt (SCI, 2024)

Fung attended both the Standard and Advanced camps in high school. The instructors he met and the fun he had inspired him to apply to Pitt. At SCI, he combines his academic pursuits with real-world internship experiences.

Fung began working for Pitt IT’s information security group in the spring 2024 semester, alongside the Threat and Incident Management team. “Each day brings a new challenge and problem to overcome. Over the years, I’ve realized how much Pitt IT does on a day-to-day basis, dealing with the various alerts and threats that arise and working to improve the technology experiences of Pitt students,” he explains.

Fung’s path has not only opened doors within the University, but also lead to internships with industry partners. The summer before his junior year, Fung worked at GNC as a security intern, and he will soon begin working on a project for BitSight, a cybersecurity ratings company in Boston. “The jobs and internships I’ve pursued so far were more than just doing the work. They allowed me to gain knowledge and work alongside people in the cybersecurity field. It’s eye-opening to be able to ask experienced staff questions and learn more about their experiences in cybersecurity and how they do things.”

Keeping ‘Em Coming Back

As technology advances, students like Fung will play a pivotal role in securing the digital future. And CyberCamp will continue to help inspire those students. Over 1,000 high schoolers have attended Pitt’s CyberCamp in its first seven years, many of whom have returned for the Advanced Camp. Over 12% of campers later enrolled at Pitt — a number that is sure to increase as more participants graduate from high school.

But it’s not just the students who keep coming back! This summer’s camp will be Ulreich’s sixth year working with the program. “It’s really the students and instructors that keep me coming back,” she says. “The demand for this camp has never been higher. I am so grateful to work with some really remarkable professionals that dedicate their time to teaching the next generation of cyber warriors.”

Jay Graham, chief enterprise architect for Pitt IT, agrees. He’s been involved in the program since its inception and is looking forward to participating again this summer. “I was initially drawn to CyberCamp because of my passion for teaching young people. I wanted to share the knowledge and experiences I’ve gained over the past 38 years in IT,” he says. “Additionally, collaborating with a talented team of instructors who share that goal reinforces my commitment to CyberCamp.”

Looking Toward the Future

CyberCamp will embark on its eighth season this summer and will include a new option. Pitt Cyber and Pitt IT are partnering with SCI professor Ahmed Ibrahim to pilot a new Advanced CyberCamp 2.0 to focus on next-level cybersecurity tactics.

CyberCamp is actively seeking avenues for enhancing diversity, ensuring that groups traditionally underrepresented in cybersecurity have ample opportunities for participation. Through efforts like collaborating with the Community Engagement Center, it has increased the diversity of campers year over year, especially in attracting girls and students of color.

As for Fung, after graduating this spring, he will head to Atlanta for a 2-year rotational program at Carrier. “Most of my internships have focused on cybersecurity. I want to explore a wider range of what’s out there in information technology. This rotational program in a network infrastructure project at Carrier will really help me do that,” he says. He credits experiences in CyberCamp and his years at Pitt with putting him on the path to success in the IT industry. Like Ulreich and Graham, he’s looking forward to seeing what the kids who come after him decide to do.

Do you have or know a high schooler who likes tech? Connect with CyberCamp! The 2024 session runs from June 24 – 28. Sign up to be notified about registration information — the camp fills up on a first come, first served basis, so it helps to know the day registration opens!

-- By Karen Beaudway, Pitt IT Blogger and Haree Kim, Pitt IT Student Blogger