Date: 2018/06/21

Kids explore future career at GFC MSU CyberCamp

William Franzen, along with his teammate Skylar Rubick, recently took first place in a cyber security competition at Great Falls College MSU

GREAT FALLS – William Franzen has likely found a future career in cyber security.

The 16-year-old, along with his teammate Skylar Rubick, recently took first place in a cyber security competition at Great Falls College MSU.

Neither Franzen nor Rubick had any experience with cyber security.

"I just like computer tech and stuff," Franzen said.

The cyber security competition was part of a cyber security camp offered this summer at Great Falls College MSU.

This was the first time the college has offered the CyberCamp, which was developed by the Air Force Association as part of the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program.

C.M. Russell High School currently has a Cyber Club which competes in the CyberPatriot program.

Chris Mee, GFC MSU Computer Technology instructor and CyberCamp instructor, wanted to bring the CyberCamp to Great Falls to get more students interested in cyber competitions.

"Our hope is that we will gain interest and expand the CyberPatriot Program to other local and regional schools," he said.

Mee also wanted to open a door for students who might be interested in a career in cyber security, which is a high-demand field. There are expected to be 6 million job openings in cyber security by 2020, and only one applicant for every three jobs, according to Forbes.

"Because every IT position is in effect a cybersecurity position now, all IT workers need to be involved with protecting the infrastructure from defending apps, data, and devices from cyber-attacks," Mee said.

Great Falls College MSU has also added a cyber security component to its network support degree.

"We added cyber security to the curriculum because there is a huge demand for workers with that skill," Mee said.

Mee sees the importance of getting kids interested in the cyber security field while they're young.

During the one-week camp, which was organized by the GFC MSU Center for Lifelong Learning, students learned about cyber threats, cyber ethics and cyber security career opportunities. They got hands-on experience with virtual machines, file protections, Ubuntu security and more.

On the final day of the camp, students competed in a mini-CyberPatriot competition.

"The CyberCamp aims to teach students the basic skills for future CyberPatriot competitions," Mee said.

During CyberPatriot competitions, teams are given an image of a complete operating system or a network. They then run through scenarios to change the security levels and specific attributes of those systems to protect them from outside threats.

Sixteen students, ages 12-18, participated in the CyberCamp.

Rachel Ford doesn't have much experience with computers, but was interested in the subject.

"I have a friend who is really into computers, and I've wanted to learn more," she said.

Ford hopes to find a career in animation, so learning about anything that has to do with computers can only help her down that path, she said.

Ford took third place in the mini-completion, along with her teammates Richard Way and Lane Gibney

For Way, the camp was a great opportunity to prepare for his dream career.

"I've had a longtime goal of being a white hat hacker," he said.

White hat hackers attempt to penetrate computer systems in order to find their vulnerabilities, so those weaknesses can be fixed.

During the camp, Way learned about the flip side of hacking.

"This is the defensive side," he said.

Ethical hacking is one of the classes that has been added to GFC MSU's new cyber security offerings. The program also covers network defense and network security.

"It was great to see these kids be so excited about cyber security," Mee said. "Not everybody was there because they were planning on competing in CyberPatriot Competitions. Some were there just to learn more about computer technology in general and learn more about how computers work."

Whatever their reason for attending the camp, Mee hopes to see many of these students join Cyber Clubs and come back next summer when GFC MSU plans to offer an advanced CyberCamp. Down the road, some of them might even earn a network support and security degree and fill a few of the many job openings in this field.

For more information on the Network Support and Security program at Great Falls College MSU, call 406-268-3700 or visit

For more information, contact:

Erin Granger
Marketing Specialist
Phone: 406-771-4314

Lewis Card
Executive Director—Development, Communications & Marketing
Phone: 406-771-4412

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Record Number: 590