Creating future cyber guardians
STC’s 2nd annual ‘Hackathon’ ignites passion for cybersecurity
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month nationwide, and the Cybersecurity program at STC in partnership with Region One ESC recently held its 2nd annual cybersecurity-focused Hackathon event, which enabled more than 250 students from at least six different school districts in the region to participate in the hands-on event.
South Texas College’s Cybersecurity program recently celebrated its signature event created to inspire students and educate them about cybersecurity and related professions.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month nationwide, and the program at STC in partnership with Region One ESC recently held its 2nd annual cybersecurity-focused Hackathon event, which enabled more than 250 students from at least six different school districts in the region to participate in the hands-on event.
Presentations were conducted by experts in the field including the city of Pharr’s Information Technology Department and Zoho Corporation, which were on-hand to meet with students one-on-one.
Zoho is a leading global technology company which opened its office in McAllen in 2022, the company’s third in Texas and the first to be located in the Rio Grande Valley.
We want to introduce these high school students into the world of cybersecurity.
The Hackathon was comprised of workshops led by STC faculty in partnership with those in the industry, which oversaw activities in forensics, cabling and wiring, assembly, decoding and simulated hacking.
“Being hands-on is the focus of this Hackathon event,” said Cybersecurity Program Chair Francisco Salinas. “I think one of the first things that students realize when they arrive here is that we’re not about theory or strictly presentations. We have brought as many different types of technologies as we could so we can get the students as engaged as possible, which is also our purpose. We want to introduce these high school students into the world of cybersecurity.”
STC Dean of Math, Science, Information Technology (IT) and Bachelor programs Ali Esmaeili, Ed.D., made opening remarks for students explaining the responsibilities everyone has in safeguarding their digital lives, he said.
“Our goal is to share all the opportunities available through cybersecurity and IT with our students,” Esmaeili said. “It’s our mission to inform them about all the possibilities, and these high school-age students really are at the best stage to receive this information, and we hope they make the choice to join our programs like cybersecurity and information technology. This is the best start for a student to become aware of what’s going on in this important field.”
Jose Pena, director of IT for the city of Pharr, was the keynote speaker at the event and was on-hand to speak about the city’s commitment to technology and mentoring the next generation of IT professionals.
“We have always valued STEM and as a city, we have always encouraged schools and colleges to continue with this education pattern so they can help students grow and become successful,” Pena said. “This is a very critical field, which is needed in every industry, and this is why we try to help schools and colleges with everything we can with regards to training opportunities, internships or the ability to complete their capstone hours with the city. IT is an amazing field that enables you to learn new things every single day, and while technology evolves, we continue to enable the younger generations to learn from us.”
Vanguard Academy student Maximiliano Rodriguez, 15, said that even as a sophomore, he is taking advantage of all the opportunities to network with professionals in the field and gaining experience as he looks forward to a career in a computer-related field.
“This is one of the career paths I am most interested in, and I have always been fascinated with computers in general ever since I was small. Now that I am learning about cybersecurity, IT and networking; I know this will help me so much when I actually enter a career,” Rodriguez said.
For more information about STC’s Cybersecurity program visit www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/cybersecurity/.