Young students turn to IT for fun, possibly career

Abraham Lincoln offers courses, opportunities
Posted at 2:23 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-06 14:42:28-04

It’s the worst feeling ever. Someone hacks into your personal information.

Company websites continually increase security measures for your safety when it comes to your  email, bank account and social media.

Turns out tomorrow’s information technicians, battling against hackers, are created in the classroom.

“How often do we hear about another company that has had their security attacked?” said Debra Robinson, a business technology teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School.

To give you a hint in the fight against cybecrimes, Forbes reported a million cybersecurity jobs opened worldwide last year – a figure released by a Cisco study.

“There so many types of technicians and analysts that go on with it,” Robinson says. “Almost anything you can think about – in any field, you need some type of technologist.”

At Abraham Lincoln, students can pursue an interest in computer science, learn a skillset which could lead them to meeting in-demand jobs within the information technology field.  

The high school is one of five in the Hawkeye State to feature the Cisco Networking Academy.

The opportunity teaches students skills in landing jobs like technicians, ranging from network to help desk.

It also offers an IT essentials course.

The students learn the ins and outs of personal computers, laptops, mobile devices, Robinson says.

 Then, the school has its own data center to maintain and operate thanks to a grant from an unnamed organization, Robinson says.

“So if there's a problem, they can't call the techs,” the teacher says. “They have to figure out what the problem is themselves.”

Recently, the students also sharpened their skills by competing in the CyberPatriot competition, hosted by the Air Force Association.

"We're competing up against the top 30 best teams from each state,” said freshmen Jake Braddy.

In six hours, a five-student team has to secure networks while also successfully completing challenges to avoid hearing the buzzer go off, an alert notification for failing the prompt.

Prior to entering the this year’s competition, Abraham Lincoln became the top team in Iowa by beating other participating high schools, Robinson says.

While the team didn’t make it to the April Finals held in Baltimore, Braddy says there’s always a take away with each challenge.

“Doing research on your own, you're only able to get so far,” Braddy says. “But if you have someone to talk to and mentor you, it's [a] really a cool experience.”

In a field that’s looking for people like them currently, the students say the competition and classes at the high school put them ahead of the learning curve.