Read the original article in The Oregonian here.
Two faculty members and six St. Mary's Academy students participated in the first ever Portland State University CyberDiscovery Camp July 7 through July 12, along with seven teams selected from other area high schools. The week-long camp culminated in a robotics competition on Saturday, July 12 in which St. Mary's Academy won first place.
St. Mary's Academy faculty members Mike Bedney and Ian Park led the group of six sophomores: Maria Grossen, Emily Humes, MaryCatherine Morgan, Laura Scully, Anna Steinhilber and Peyton Tierney.
"Six young women have walked away from this camp thinking about what challenges lie ahead with regard to ethical use of technology, cyber security, as well as possible career paths they might consider exploring. Education of this sort will be critical moving forward and it brings me comfort to know that the future leaders of SMA will be prepared for anything," said Bedney.
Throughout the week of camp, teams were challenged to write a paper as a response to readings, participate in a multi-layered security-based treasure hunt, solve a cryptography puzzle and program a robot through a maze as part of the final robotics challenge. The goal of these challenges was for the students to develop a better understanding of national cyber-security and the ethical and social issues surrounding robotics. St. Mary's Academy scored the most points for the duration of the camp and received a financial award of $1250 which will be used to fund projects for St. Mary's Academy's Tech Club in the upcoming year.
"I had some amazing discussions that changed my views on issues – like Edward Snowden and the leaking of secrets, whether or not robots should be allowed in law enforcement and if robots should have their own living quarters. I learned that the cyber-security job market is rapidly expanding and that there is a shortage of women in the field," said St. Mary's Academy sophomore Maria Grossen.
Teams were awarded points based on how well they did with each challenge. The SMA team partnered with the only other all-girls team – three students from Village Home Education Resource Center, a homeschooling community, for many of the events and activities.
"I'm glad both teams placed in the top three spots of the competition. Village Home was the only other group consisting entirely of girls, so we crushed the stereotype that girls aren't good at math or science," said St. Mary's Academy sophomore Emily Hume.
Although CyberDiscovery Camp was focused largely on technology, the Portland State University-hosted tech camp was led by university faculty from a variety of disciplines such as engineering, computer science, math, cryptography and humanities.
"The CyberDiscovery Camp curriculum is truly inter-disciplinary and the threads from different areas of academia were woven together in such a seamless manner as to blur the lines between subjects. The faculty of Louisiana Tech University, who designed the CyberDiscovery experience and brought it to Portland State University, referred to this practice using the acronym MESH - math, engineering, science and humanities," said Park.
Portland State University also partnered with the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, to present the camp. Students participated in several discussions throughout the course of the week based around cyber-security.