June 7, 2017
AUHSD is positioning itself as a national leader in the burgeoning field of cyber-security.
Beginning in the fall, Magnolia High School will become the home of Southern California’s first Cyber-Security Career Pathway in partnership with University of California, Irvine, Cypress College, and North Orange County Regional Occupational Program.
“This will be a great opportunity for our students to be qualified for a basic cyber-security job in the public sector with the training they receive,” said Superintendent Michael Matsuda. “This venture will also enhance our focus on safety, which is always a top priority.”
This summer, 40 AUHSD teachers are undergoing intensive training in the field as the first step in establishing the pathway. The teachers will be developing cyber-security curriculum, which will be integrated into core classes or offered as electives. For example, 8th graders could be introduced to the topic through classes such as coding. In high school, core classes such as math could introduce the physics of hacking, while electives could include cyber literacy and cyber science classes.
“Our entire campus is getting behind this effort,” said Daphne Hammer, principal at Magnolia High School. “There are many challenges in developing a curriculum that is up to date, but we believe we have the right team in place to make it happen.”
The teachers are working Cypress College Dean Henry Hua, who has been charged with developing a model that can be brought to scale throughout the state. Additionally, they are collaborating with representatives of the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), which shares cyber-security lessons and resources with K-12 teachers around the country. Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the center’s curricular materials have been approved by 17 states, including California. At the high school level, for example, the group’s cyber literacy course blends civics lessons with hands-on activities involving robotics and computer programming. Students might use microcontrollers to build a robotic minesweeper then take part in discussions on constitutional privacy protections.
“We need to make sure students know how to live and operate in cyberspace,” said Kevin Nolten, NICRC’s director of academic outreach. “That includes hard skills, like network programming and security, but also humanities, such as cyber law and ethics.”
Also contributing to the teachers’ training are members of the nonprofit Tesla Foundation, which focuses on curriculum related to aerial robotics, or drones. According to the foundation, the drone industry has thee potential to create more than 70,000 new, well-paying jobs.
Students who enter the Cyber-Security Pathway will have three exit points—graduation from Magnolia High School, graduation from Cypress College, and graduation from UCI.
UCI is pursuing a grant from the federal government that would fund a cyber-security research center adjacent to the campus. With the research center, UCI would become a regional training hub, one of four nationally.
“As a nation, we have vital national security concerns that are being addressed through advances in cyber-security,” said Superintendent Matsuda, who has been appointed to the UCI Cyber-Security Research Institute Advisory Board. “AUHSD students will now be in a position to make a good living making those advances.”