About the Program
Classes for High School Students
The Cyber Technologies Academy (CTA) is an entry-level program for high school students intrigued by computer science and cybersecurity. Offering fun, interactive lessons and exercises, the CTA can be your first step toward becoming part of the next generation of cybersecurity experts. Plan to participate in our next CTA session. You'll learn from our cybersecurity professionals, meet other students with similar interests, and supplement your college applications with an impressive technical skill set. Learn more about the program and the classes being offered.
Training and Resources for Teachers
A second component of the CTA is aimed at teachers interested in supplementing an existing computer science curriculum. Join us for free summer training classes and gain knowledge and resources you can use at home or in the classroom. If you are a teacher or school administrator and want to become involved with the CTA or take our summer training classes, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, school, class(es) of interest, and some background information (such as on existing cyber classes at your school). Learn more about the program and the classes being offered.
Introduction to Cyber Technologies
June 19, 2015
We have finally finished our course textbook and exercise environment for our Introduction to Cyber Technologies class. Check it out on our new Releases page!
Summer Admissions Aftermath
June 12, 2015
To the students who applied for our Summer session, you should have all received an email with your admission decision. We had a lot of students apply this term (the second-most ever) which is great! But, for many of you, unfortunately not so great, because we were unable to accept everyone. In the interest of complete transparency, we wanted to take a minute to recap what our admissions process was and how we tried to handle admissions as fairly as we could.
To start, we had 88 applicants and 54 spots (18 spots/class times 3 classes). Of the 88 applicants, fewer than 18 (approximately 16) put down Cryptography/Wireless Pen Testing as their first choice. Of these, all but one were former CTA students who had taken our Introduction to Cyber Technologies prerequisite course. The one additional student did not explicitly meet the prerequisite, but from their application, appeared to have an appropriate background for the course. This was an exception we made in our best judgement. That class was then "filled". We did not consider students who may have put it down as their second choice class and who did not meet the prerequisites for the remaining two spots. This left 36 remaining spots for approximately 72 applicants.
Next, we made a couple judgement calls. Because we want students in the CTA to feel like part of a community and to not forget what they've learned between sessions, we decided to accept the small number of returning students who had not signed up for the Crypto/Wireless course. This was approximately 5 students. Next, we noticed another small group of applicants who would be traveling from areas such as Walnut Creek, San Jose, and Tracy. As these students, due to travel time limitations, would almost certainly not be able to attend during the school year, we decided to accept them during the summer session so they would at least be able to take our classes once. This was also approximately 5 students. This left us with approximately 26 spots left open for 62 applicants.
Finally, we started the general application process. As we always do, we printed out sheets of paper with each applicant's ID number, course preferences, free response section, and comments section. Without reading the application, we blacked out any identifying information such as names, schools, gender-specific references, etc. We then shuffled the applications and reviewed the free response sections. For each applicant, we assigned a score between 1 and 5 based on our subjective interpretation of the motivation. Because subjective evaluations are particularly imprecise, we gave students the benefit of the doubt and always moved them up a score if they were on the fence. Later in this post, we will talk in more detail about what we looked for to differentiate between scores.
With each applicant scored, we next took the 5's and gave them spots in our classes. When we ran out of 5's, we gave the 4's spots in our classes, and so on. When we ran out of spots in a class in the middle of a group, we randomly selected which of the students in that group would be put in a class, and which would end up on our waitlist. We continued this process until our waitlist had approximately 16 students on it. We have found that in previous sessions, about 20% of our applicants drop out sometime between when they first apply and the first day of class. We suspect that most, if not all, of the waitlisted students will be able to get in to one of our classes.
We then had class lists for each of our three classes, a waitlist, and sadly, a far-too-large list of people we were unable to accept at all this session. Emails with admission decisions went out shortly thereafter. To those of you who did not get in, please do not take it as a reflection on your worth. With a subjective review process, we could only look for clear indicators of motivation, something that is very difficult to write about. We would love it if you could take our classes in the Fall, next Spring, or next Summer. If you want a better chance of getting in next time, please read the following paragraphs which talk about how we attempt to identify the most-motivated students.
As has been our focus all along, we try to admit the most motivated students we can find. This means we are not looking for a resume, a list of accomplishments, or letters of recommendation (we actually got a letter of rec this time). We don't want you to have to spend a long time highlighting your achievements. However, we have come to realize there is a correlation between those applicants who are most motivated and those who tend to achieve great things. When we read through the free response sections of all of your applications, we noticed several commonalities between people we ended up putting in the same categories. (Note: we only had a small handful of applicants get 1's and 2's. Most applicants were 3's and 4's, with a smaller group getting 5's.)
- Wrote only a sentence or two. Superficially answered only one of the prompts.
- Wrote several sentences and addressing several of the prompts, but the response was rushed and did not give us a clear impression of the applicant
- Wrote a clear response to some number of the prompts. Gave us a sense of who the applicant was, why they were interested in the CTA, and what they hoped to accomplish. In comparison with 4's and 5's, 3's ended up focusing a lot more on generic benefits to taking classes with us, as opposed to how our classes would specifically help them reach their goals. An example would be someone who says they "heard about a company getting hacked on the news and want to learn about cyber security."
- Wrote a clear response to some number of the prompts, as with the 3's, but also included a personal story that demonstrates where their motivation comes from. An example would be someone who says they want to "become a white hat hacker ever since they were a kid and have tried to learn on their own by visiting codecademy.com or codecombat.com, but it just hasn't clicked for them yet and they need someone to help them get started."
- As with the 3's and 4's, the free response was clear and concise. However, these applicants were able to show truly amazing motivation to learn and grow in this field. These were the applicants who were volunteering their time to teach middle school students how to code through ACE Coding, or entering and competing in robotics competitions. These were the applicants who were challenged to do something they didn't know how to do, and went and figured it out on their own, pushing through the frustration until they realized their goal.
If you are reading this and wondering how you can make your free response section really stand out next time, go join your school's computer club, start to learn a new programming language, or volunteer with ACE Coding. These sorts of things really demonstrate that you're motivated to learn and grow and you aren't just sitting back and letting someone else dictate what you learn. Although it's probably small conselation, we will also be posting our Introduction to Cyber Technologies class on our website very shortly. We were planning to have it posted by today, but our review and approval process is taking a bit longer than we had hoped for.
And, if you're reading this thinking you've already been in our classes and now have a free pass into future sessions, think again. Our decision to prioritize former students this session was a one-time decision to promote cohesion and bring some cross-class topics into each classroom. You still have to show us why you deserve to be here.
As always, if you have any comments or concerns, please reach out to us at email@example.com. We read and respond to every message we get, usually within an hour or two (during business hours) and we really try to take feedback into account as we continue to shape the program.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Classroom phone: (925) 294-2571
1-Week Teacher Bootcamp:
June 15 - June 19
Registration for this Teacher Bootcamp is now closed.
1-Week Teacher Bootcamp:
June 22 - June 26
Registration for this Teacher Bootcamp is now closed.
5-week Summer Session:
July 6 - August 6
Registration for Summer Session is now closed.
Deadline: Sunday, June 7, at 11:59pm
Livermore Valley Open Campus
Sandia National Laboratories
7011 East Avenue, Livermore, California 94550