Austin Sets New Standard For Volunteerism
The Alliance Cybersecurity Converge Tour has been evolving since its inception in 2015 and with each event, we get a little bit closer to the unreachable target of perfection.
Every event has a single goal, to inspire as many students as we possibly can to pursue a career in information security. One of the best ways we have found to achieve this goal, is to demonstrate the enormous diversity of available career paths, in what would otherwise be considered the narrow path of “cybersecurity”.
Governing Board member John Scimone, CSO at Dell Technologies, was keen to bring the Converge Tour to Austin and host us at their Round Rock Campus. Alan Mayer, Senior Vice President of Customer Advocacy at Dell Technologies welcomed students and organized the large team of volunteers from Dell. John Byrne, President of North Americans at Dell Technologies energetic opening comments got the kids excited not only about the events of the day, but also the vast opportunities in technology, and cybersecurity specifically.
Alliance Executive Director, Sidney Plaza led a program focused in three areas; basic principals of cybersecurity, a gamified capture the flag experience, and an interactive panel discussion on career pathways between students and professionals.
Students from six local Leander ISD high schools were broken into teams of 2-3 students and led through a bevy of 86 individual learning challenges, testing their analytical thinking skills, team work and collaboration abilities.
”We really push the students to solve difficult questions. The content covers a wide range of skills and tools that make a difference in today’s cyber environments. We don’t expect students to know all of the answers. We encourage them to seek guidance from the mentors and build new skills by digging to find the solutions to the challenges.” – Sidney Plaza
Volunteers from Dell, IBM, Palo Alto, Visa, Lynx Technologies, and more served as technical mentors throughout the experience.
Cybersecurity is a complex industry, requiring professionals with diverse skills to combat adversaries. Our group of volunteers in Austin really helped illustrate that diversity as we had CISOs, CSOs, Security Engineers, Architects, Analysts, Security Operations Directors, Sales and Marketing Executives, Training and Diversity Officers, and Executive Assistants, all with different skill sets and backgrounds.
The Leander student were eager to learn and made the most of their time with the mentors. The students and mentors were broken into small groups to talk through the decision making process for two typical cybersecurity scenarios, and the mentors challenged the students to assess risk, consider every angle, and ensure that they were considering the broader business impact when deciding what to do. Throughout the day, students asked questions about ethics, available tools, career path changes, required education and more.
As always, we would like to thank our Global Converge Tour Sponsors, Palo Alto Networks and Microsoft for making every one of our Tour events possible. We’d also like to thank Dell for hosting this event and providing so many incredible volunteers along the way.
A special thanks to Sherri and Alan for all of your help in planning and executing a very special day of cybersecurity education and mentorship.