The fate of national security rested in the hands of sixty high school students and their teachers last Saturday during the Analysis & Investigation through Cyber-Based Scenarios (AICS) program.
AICS is a week-long, catalytic event that allows high school juniors and their teachers to be immersed into the world of cyber and to develop and hone analysis and investigative skills through dynamic activities, including a realistic simulation of a national security emergency. Schools from across Louisiana (Airline High, Ascension Christian High, Catholic High, Delhi Charter, New Orleans Military & Maritime Academy, Parkway High, Ruston High, The Dunham School, West Feliciana High, and West Monroe High) participated in the program hosted at Louisiana Tech University and supported by the Cyber Innovation Center and a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant.
Throughout the week, the teams were engaged in mock scenarios, engineering and computer science labs, film sessions, and interactive discussions on history, ethical issues, and theory. Additionally, teams were immersed in a parallel cryptographic hunt with an industrial espionage angle. At the end of the week, teams were also treated to a presentation from Mr. Daniel Stein, Program Director of the National Cybersecurity Training and Education Program for DHS in Washington, DC.
G.B. Cazes, Cyber Innovation Center Vice President, commented, “We want AICS to help students develop the critical thinking skills necessary in any cyber career and learn directly from subject matter experts. We were thrilled that Mr. Stein from the Department of Homeland Security was able to present to the teams and share real world insights into the threats our nation faces every day and the opportunities for future careers.”
The program culminated with a final 24-hour scenario that required teams to watch news briefings, search for clues, and chase down leads on an event of national security in which cyberspace is an integral piece of the larger puzzle. Adding another layer of complexity, more information was intermittently provided throughout the day to further emulate the dramatic timing of real-life scenarios. The scenario ended on Saturday, June 25, 2016, with teams presenting their findings to a panel, offering their recommendations on the government’s next step, and answering questions on how they arrived at their conclusions.
Teams accrued points throughout the week based on different challenges and assignments as well as the Saturday briefings. The team from The Dunham School emerged as the first place winner and earned a $1,250 technology award for the school. Following in second place, Delhi Charter School was awarded a $750 technology award. The technology awards will help the teachers to integrate the skills and curricula from AICS into their classrooms.
Prior to arriving at AICS, high school teachers attended a professional development workshop that prepared them for the week-long summer program with their students and allowed them to network with Louisiana Tech University faculty.