Dr. Phyllis Schneck addresses Cybercamp participants.
Photo by Evan Jenkins/Gazette Packet
This summer at T.C. Williams High School students ditched the endless hours of free time at home for something different. From July 11-22, TC hosted a summer Cybercamp for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. The camp was free of charge and hosted approximately 30 students participated.
Students at the Cybercamp enhanced their digital skills through programming robots, learning coding, and going on field trips to local digital business. In addition, students learn public speaking and resume building as well as listen to guest speakers.
One such speaker was Dr. Phyllis Schneck, the chief cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security. Schneck spoke to the students about topics such as how to get a job in a digital industry and how to succeed in getting noticed as digital pioneer. “At what point do you trust computers to make decisions?” said Schneck, illustrating the ongoing need for digital experts in emerging fields.
In a robotics class, Cesar Alfaro, a student on the Cybercamp’s blue team, demonstrated his robot. The three-wheeled circuit board car had two infrared detectors on the front which made the vehicle turn any time the IR transmitters detected something blocking the robot’s path.
Daquan Henderson, a rising senior at TC, took a slightly different approach. His robot uses two antennae that stick out from the front of the machine. When the antennae come in contact with an object it causes the robot to switch direction. “My favorite part [about the camp] is getting to meet these different people,” said Henderson, “it gives us an opportunity to learn something outside of school and gives us an opportunity to have more options once we get out of high school.”
Henderson has had previous experience in this field. During his sophomore year, he and two classmates created an app to help with word association for students with learning disabilities.
Not all of the students had prior experience. Adam Elnahas, a rising sophomore, began at TC at the Minnie Howard STEM academy. Apart from that, this was his first experience formally learning about cyber technology. “I’m going stay in STEM until I’m a senior,” said Elnahas, “and then I think I’m going to take more computer-related classes, maybe computer sciences and stuff along the lines of that.”
“The kids had a lot of fun breaking the mold,” said Chris Outlaw, one of the Cybercamp’s instructors and technician, “and it was part of the camp the whole time for them to go beyond what was expected of them.”