Grambling State University’s Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies recently concluded the first of three summer camps focused on cybersecurity and cloud computing fundamentals.

The four-day camp held last week saw 24 high school students — a mix of sophomores, juniors and seniors — from across the region participating in the immersive program, which exposed them to the world of cybersecurity through interactive lectures, hands-on experience, and interaction with current university students.

“They learned the basics of staying safe online and also what cloud computing is so that they get sort of a teaser for when they decide to go to college,” said Camp Director Dr. Dileon Saint-Jean, a lecturer in GSU’s Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies.

The camp curriculum was designed around TryHackMe rooms, covering essential topics such as common attacks, web application security, operating system security, network security, digital forensics, security operations, vulnerabilities, and cloud security.

“Students gained valuable practical skills through exercises that simulated real-world cyber threats and learned how to defend against them,” Saint-Jean said. “In addition to technical skills, the camp also emphasized the importance of cyber hygiene and staying safe online. The camp culminated with a presentation by groups of students on a topic covered during the camp in an effort to both reinforce the content and develop their presentation skills.”

Saint-Jean said the feedback received from some of the campers was encouraging.

“One told me this class was not what they were expecting, in a good way,” Saint-Jean said. “They said that they really expected a really difficult course that would make them hate computers, but that it was actually very understandable, and they were able to keep up.

“Another one said the practical portions of this class were quite fun to do and helped to establish a better understanding of the process and that the class introduced the campers to a possible career path with a great outlook while also warning them about possible cyberattacks.”

Beyond the classroom, the camp also provided the high school students with a glimpse of life at Grambling State University.

“They interacted with current students who served as mentors and role models, sharing their experiences and insights into the field of cybersecurity,” Saint-Jean said. “And it’s so important to be able to reach them at this age where they’re starting to really think about the direction they want to take the rest of their lives.

“So, the students participating in the camp get a taste of what college life is like and what the classroom settings and lectures will be like. And that’s very important as they start making their decisions about college. It’s a great learning experience for them providing them with important knowledge while also providing Grambling State University with a great recruiting tool as potential future students learn about what we have to offer in our Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies.”