YooperCon K12 Comes to NMU | News, Sports, Jobs


Bobby Caron, left, and Enzo Stabile, both seniors at Marquette High School, take part in the Pi-Top computer exercise during Thursday’s YooperCon at the Northern Center. High school students from across the Upper Peninsula learned about cybersecurity topics. (Diary photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE – In an increasingly complicated digital world, knowing how to protect cyber objects from hackers helps.

That was the main focus of Thursday’s YooperCon K12, which brought high school students from across the Upper Peninsula to the Northern Center at Northern Michigan University.

Participants learned about a variety of topics, including:

Hack a car;

Exploit bugs;

≤ Defend networks;

Protect your data;

Develop programs; and

Launch your career.

Liam Goetz, AmeriCorps VISTA member with Employment Pathways VISTA, and Matthew Jaquez, AmeriCorps VISTA member on the recruitment and training side, attended Thursday’s event.

“YooperCon is essentially a ‘cybernetic day’,” said Goetz.

About 300 students from across the UP had the opportunity, he said, to participate in different “Cyber-activation activities” such as auto-hacking, Pi-Top programming, and password cracking, among others.

“There’s a general cybersecurity course and stuff like that as they come here for the day to learn more about cyber activators to help spark that interest early on to get them to ‘cyber’. as a career field. “ said Goetz.

Jaquez said he and Goetz helped plan and organize the event, along with Doug Miller, director of the Upper Peninsula Cybersecurity Institute located at NMU.

It has been a process of several months.

“We were pretty much by his side”, said Jaquez. “We have everything planned in terms of the activities that need to be here. How to organize the students? What steps do you need to take in planning to make this really happen? “

The institute offers non-degree and industrial degrees related to careers in cybersecurity, an emerging field, according to NMU. It also augments the NMU’s existing cyber defense bachelor’s degree and provides career exploration and training opportunities with school districts and UP K-12 post-secondary institutions.

Goetz said the students listened to a panel of cyber professionals over lunch, and during the morning and afternoon split into smaller groups for breakaway sessions and various activities.

Jake Elzinga, a student at Marquette High School, attended the afternoon session to learn more about the Pi-Top, a kind of laptop chassis.

Earlier today, he and others learned how to hack devices that connect to the Internet – not that they ever would, of course.

Elzinga has admitted to having been interested in cybersecurity for some time, although he is leaving the field.

He stressed, however, that it is good to have some knowledge of cybersecurity as a background.

“I think I’ll be doing some computer programming, and that’s definitely a big part – knowing how to secure your code, how it all works.” said Elzinga.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is [email protected]

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