The Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) was proud to host the annual NICE K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Nashville, TN on December 4-5, 2017. The mission of this conference is to inspire a cybersecurity workforce for the digital age. It convenes stakeholders across K-12 education, higher education, students, government, industry, research, and nonprofits that are working to develop opportunities and competencies in K-12 STEM programming, specifically in cybersecurity. The conference expands a national effort to document the K-12 cybersecurity education programs on-going throughout the country and to address the goal: to develop a comprehensive agenda focused on the challenges of cybersecurity education at the K-12 level.

On the Sunday prior to the conference starting, IBM sponsored an exciting pre-conference event. #IBMCyberDay4Girls targeted all 6th-9th-grade girls interested in building their knowledge of cybersecurity and hearing about exciting opportunities in STEM related careers. This fun day of learning, games, and giveaways helped the girls learn about protecting their online identity, understand the Internet of Things, and meet female role models studying and working in cybersecurity.

The conference featured four prominent keynote speakers including:

  • Sheila Boyington, President of Thinking Media/Learning Blade®
  • Diane Miller, Director, InfoSec Operations and Cyber Initiatives at Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Heather Ricciuto, Transformation and Academic Outreach Leader, BBA, PMP at IBM
  • Paul Vann, 11th grader and Founder and CEO at Vanntech Cyber

Attendees also had a myriad of break out sessions to choose from. All of the speakers offered multiple perspectives on a wide range of topics exploring the themes of career awareness, infusing cybersecurity across the education portfolio, innovative educational approaches, academic and career pathways, and cybersecurity awareness.  To download the speakers’ full presentations, click here.

In addition to the many workshops, attendees also enjoyed hands-on activities by different presenters in the Drop-In Activity Room—a room separate from the separate session tracks. For example, the Integrating Cybersecurity into STEM session showed how cybersecurity concepts are being integrated into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics classes. Attendees learned how to introduce a variety of concepts into the classroom by building flashlights to discuss cyber attacks, learning about various encryption and decryption methods, the security challenges around artificial intelligence, and more.

Of course, the evening social held on Monday evening was a highlight for attendees as well. Hosted in partnership with the Cyber Innovation Center and NICERC, this event provided an opportunity to network and interface with cybersecurity tools. Attendees experienced hands-on activities with Boe-Bots, Micro:bits, and Raspberry Pis and explored ways to integrate cybersecurity fundamentals into the K-12 Classroom.

In summary, with 320+ attendees and 85 speakers and panelists, the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference was highly successful. Throughout the event and in post-event communications attendees expressed how useful it was to hear successful K-12 cybersecurity education models being employed nationwide, and how valuable the networking opportunities were. Whether attending primarily for networking, personal growth & development, the speakers, or the subject, conference guests overwhelmingly felt the event satisfied their reasons for attending.

iKeepSafe appreciates IBM and ISSA Nashville Chapter for sponsoring the event. We are looking forward to reconvening next year for the 2018 Conference on December 3-4th in San Antonio! Stay tuned for future updates with more details.