SUMTER, S.C. — Hundreds of high school students gathered on the lawn at Morris College to learn about drones, robotics, and forensics at Cybersecurity Awareness Day.
With the goal of keeping students safe online while raising awareness about potential jobs, the college hosted the event for the second time in Sumter on Tuesday.
"Crazy and lit and fire and happy" is how 10th grader Tavion Green described the visit.
Classmate Dalen Tatum is enjoying the break from traditional learning.
"Otherwise, I was gonna be sitting in class, so I’d rather learn here than at school," he said, laughing.
High schoolers got to meet with college students like Je’von Haris to learn about opportunities to pursue cybersecurity as a potential job.
"I thought it was a great thing that Morris opened up to the high school students so they could come out, have fun, interact with the college students, dance with us," Haris said. "I feel like I got a chance to meet and talk to some students, hear their goals, hear what they want to do and it’s great to see that Morris offering these chances and these classes for these students."
Students participated in hands-on activities to learn about cybersecurity in an engaging way. That's something Radman Ali with Morris College thinks is important.
"Cybersecurity has become very important topic these days because of all the problems that are associated with hacking," Ali said. "The protection for your data in your computers, in your tablet, in your cell phone, in your credit cards - all of these that have any electronic aspect of them are going to be subject to mischief."
To prevent these hacking attempts, more students need to enter the field according to Cybersecurity Specialist Corisma Akins with Cyber.org.
"There is a cybersecurity workforce shortage," Akins said. "Right now there’s about 700,000 open jobs in cybersecurity. In order to fill those positions, we have to start early by embedding cybersecurity in the students at an early age."
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That's why Richard Phillips with Sumter School District helped facilitate the event.
"It’s important because the cybersecurity jobs are ready to be filled and the pipeline will not fill those jobs as it currently is populated," Phillips said. "The first measure is to make students aware of cybersecurity to let them know what’s at the end of the pipeline, what careers do you see and how does your life plug into that."
Not only is the event a way to educate students about job opportunities, but it’s also a way to keep them safe.
"Most definitely we raised the awareness level and that’s the beginning. But we also want them to be secure as individuals. We want to make sure they’re being secure online," Phillips said.
And this event falls at the right time according to Morris College President Leroy Staggers. He said this is the second time in a row that it's been held during the month of October.
"We certainly hope that these first two years is a great start to many, many years of continued cybersecurity awareness Day at our institution in the month of October, which is Cybersecurity Awareness Month," he added.