The University of Tulsa welcomed members of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma to campus this fall for cyber workshops that give girls and young women the opportunity to earn badges and explore career options.
The workshops, held twice during the semester, started with coding in the morning for Daises, Brownies and Junior scouts and then switched to higher-level instruction in the afternoon for Cadette, Senior and Ambassador scouts. Previous sessions have included information on malware, specifically viruses, worms and Trojans. On Oct. 22, the older Girl Scouts learned about passwords, steganography, hacking and encryption through hands-on exercises.
This year’s workshops are sponsored by university groups, including iTU and Women in Cybersecurity. TU-Team8 Cyber Fellow Samantha Phillips, who earned her bachelor’s degree from TU in computer information systems and is now a doctoral student, helped lead the organization of the workshops.
“Opening doors for girls to see themselves in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields is important,” said Phillips, herself a former Girl Scout. “Not only is it great for the girls, it’s beneficial for the industry. There is an ongoing shortage of cybersecurity professionals, and programs like this one can help bolster the ranks for the future.”
Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma has partnered with TU on cyber workshops since 2016 and was the first in the nation to offer cybersecurity badges to participants who successfully complete the program. Since then, the cybersecurity badges have spread across the country.
Nineteen Girl Scouts received their Cybersecurity 1: Basics badge on Oct. 22. The sessions were led by current TU students and faculty as well as TU alumnae – some of whom are former Girl Scouts and/or have daughters participating in the program.
The University of Tulsa is nationally recognized as a cyber powerhouse, certified by the NSA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Research. TU’s School of Cyber Studies administers a bachelor of science in cyber security and an undergraduate minor in cyber security, as well as a master’s degree in cyber security and a doctorate in cyber studies.