Each morning at 9:30 a.m, Makayla Davis of Aberdeen, Mississippi logs on to start her day. Instead of simply watching TV, hanging out or getting roped into yard work, Makayla is learning cryptography, network fundamentals and penetration testing techniques.
She is one of 24 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from 12 states participating in the inaugural Air Force JROTC Cyber Academy, an eight-week virtual course that will earn each cadet three college credits and prepare them for valuable industry certifications. She started the program when one of her teachers told her about the opportunity. “I was excited to learn new things that I could bring back to my school,” she says.
The course is part of the JROTC-CS Demonstration Project, a collaboration between the Air Force JROTC and CSforALL, aimed at growing the talent pipeline in critical technology careers. The project is funded through an advisory consortium of nonprofits, federal agencies and corporate sponsors, including Google. Google supports CSforALL, in addition to other organizations such as 4-H, Kapor Center and the Computer Science Teachers’ Association to ensure that all students, regardless of background, have equitable access to computer science learning opportunities.
The Air Force JROTC serves more than 125,000 cadets at nearly 900 high schools across the U.S. and overseas, but only 36 percent of those schools offer an AP computer science course. JROTC-CS aims to develop a way to increase computer science and cybersecurity programs at all JROTC high schools, and offer opportunities for cadets to develop skills, explore technical career paths and earn industry certifications, scholarships and more.
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“This program embodies the AFJROTC mission: developing young citizens,” says Colonel Stephen T. Sanders, Director, HQ AFJROTC. “Whether our cadets have military or civilian careers in mind, we are preparing them for the future.”
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