A week in the Netherlands lies ahead this spring for a handful of Cultivating Coders graduates, thanks to an extraordinary collaborative effort between organizations and support from the U.S. Embassy there. Side-by-side with young programmers from the Netherlands, the visiting coders will take on hacker battles, work on CSI-type cyber challenges with local police, study the history of cryptography, and learn to fight cybercrime alongside international hackers. Sightseeing and touring in Rotterdam, and its surrounding areas, is also written into the program agenda, including a patrol boat adventure in the Rotterdam harbor, Europe’s largest port.
In 2017, Anouk Vos, Chairman for Cyberworkplace, was invited to the United States to promote “ethical hacking” and her program to teach it: take young hackers and equip them with state-of-the-art coding skills- that no traditional school provides- then plug program graduates in with government agencies and private enterprises to boost those organizations’ cybersecurity.
During that visit, Ms. Vos met Charles Ashley III, the President of Cultivating Coders, which is a mobile coding camp serving the United States. It offers eight-week intensive boot camp-style courses to high school aged students who typically don’t have access to this type of education because of limited resources or geographic isolation. From this initial meeting, a unique partnership was born; now, both programs are selecting students to attend the CyberHeroes event in Rotterdam.
“I am beyond enthusiastic about this collaboration,” said Ms. Vos. “Ethical hacking skills are extremely important to cope with current security threats. I feel that by bringing our communities together we are starting a trailblazing 21st Century workforce.”
According to Mr. Ashley, to call this opportunity ‘amazing’ would be an understatement. “Our goal has always been to expose young people to the endless possibilities one could experience in life. This trip is a great springboard to that for our graduates,” he said.
Cultivating Coders brings computer coding curriculum and hands-on training to rural, tribal, and inner-city areas where resources for technical training or computer science education are not currently available. The program focuses on providing web application development fundamentals and coding education for high school students aged 13-18, young adults aged 18-29 and is designed to optimize graduates’ further educational opportunities and employability.