At the end of last year, iKeepSafe hosted the 7th annual NICE K12 VIRTUAL Cybersecurity Education Conference on December 6-7, 2021 with pre-conference workshops on December 4-5. 

Due to COVID-19, we made the decision early on in 2021 to once again make it a fully virtual conference. It was highly successful with over 500 attendees from 48 states and 5 countries! There were 148 speakers and panelists, and 12 pre-conference workshops that took place on the Saturday and Sunday prior to the event. 

There were some exciting new additions this year, including: 

  • virtual poster sessions,
  • a “speed networking” social, 
  • a leaderboard competition, 
  • an exhibitor passport raffle, 
  • a photo caption contest, 
  • and a Capture the Flag competition put on by Virginia Cyber Range. 

There were also additional networking engagement opportunities including virtual video meetups initiated by attendees, Birds of a Feather morning networking sessions, and lively discussion boards with thousands of posts and comments. We were honored to feature three keynote speakers:

  • Jennifer Buckner, Senior Vice President, Technology Risk Governance & Standards at Mastercard 
  • Sarah Kaleel, Program Manager at Comcast 
  • Efren Zamaro, Student Keynote, Associate Analyst, Falcon Complete at Crowdstrike

Another highlight of the event was the fourth annual National Cyber Signing Day. This year the hour-long high-energy presentation was pre-recorded and featured six high school students’ stories about participating in cybersecurity-related internships over the past year. This video and the 2020 video are available to the public via the conference website. It’s a great way to inspire young people to enter similar programs, or inspire schools to put together similar videos! 

Through generous stipends provided by Mastercard and CISA, we provided free attendance for 120 high school teachers. These stipends were prioritized to teachers in diverse and/or low-income cities and rural areas of the United States. One first time attendee said, 

“I just want to take the time to thank you for running such a wonderful conference. It’s not ideal that everything is virtual, but you made the best of it, and provided many authentic learning opportunities…Seeing some of the big stars of cyber education was wonderful also. I received a scholarship to attend this event. Many of us (cyber teachers) are the only ones in our community…We need to network with others, and this is the event that makes that happen. Thank you!”

– Sarah Putterman, Cheltenham High School, Wyncote PA

Be sure to save the date for the 2021 NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference on December 5-6, 2022. The conference will be held in person at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Go to the conference website and sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of any page to receive updates.