Dozens of high school students from across the country are heading home following a week-long summer camp in South Dakota introducing them to the high-tech field of cyber-security. This first-of-its kind hacker camp is reaching out to more girls.
180 high school students registered for this free cyber-security camp at Dakota State University in Madison. 40 of those registered were girls. That may not sound like a lot, but Dakota State says that's twice the female enrollment for computer-related classes in college.
Hacking in the heat of summer. All part of the camping curricula at Dakota State University.
"I learned about wireless networking, hacking, seeing passwords and kicking people off our networks," Logean Hansen of Huron said.
Perry: That sounds kind of sinister.
Logean: Yeah, I don't quite remember all of it so they don't have to worry.
For an entire week, Dakota State instructors taught the basics to this highly-motivated next generation of cyber-security experts.
"We thought by Wednesday or Thursday they might start to get wore down, but they showed up at 7:30 every morning raring to go and went well past midnight most days," DSU cyber-security teacher Josh Pauli said.
Dakota State is already making plans for next summer, including an additional camp just for girls to get more of them interested in cyber-security.
"It's definitely a male-dominated field. I think if you talk to some of the females this week, I think they're going to say they had a pretty positive experience. Hopefully, they'll consider cyber-security as an area of study and a profession, too," Pauli said.
But some girls think a separate camp just for them isn't necessary.
"There's so little girls here in the first place and actually, I'm one of those people, I have a lot more guy friends than I do girl friends. I think it's a lot more fun because you get a chance to branch out and meet all those different types of people," Emma Baier of Brandon said.
But Dakota State says a girls-only camp could help bring more gender diversity to a field that's heavily skewed toward boys. The students, whether they're boys or girls, say they're already looking forward to learn more next summer, as they break camp on campus.
"It's fun and a lot of learning, a lot of learning," Hansen said.
The girls-only summer camp would be in addition to the co-ed camp.
The cyber-security camp is also a recruiting tool for Dakota State. Campers who are interested in attending the school get the $25 enrollment fee waived.