Tech’s CEROC partnering with SANS Institute in cyber encounters project

Ambareen Siraj, Tennessee Tech’s director of the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center, has announced a partnership with the SANS Institute in the Cyber Encounters project.

COOKEVILLE –The Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center at Tennessee Tech is partnering with the SANS Institute in the Cyber Encounters project. 

Set to launch in September 2019, this project seeks to empower high school teachers to bring extracurricular cybersecurity education to their students in high schools through a series of cyber encounters in five target states: Indiana, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The partnership also involves two of the most respected computer science education organizations: CSforAll and the Computer Science Teachers Association, along with cybersecurity organization, WiCyS.

“This program is an exceptional opportunity for aspiring students in high school to learn more about their cyber capabilities and the opportunities that are waiting for them in the cybersecurity industry,” said Ambareen Siraj, director of CEROC. “Additionally, the program helps to encourage and enable high school teachers to expand their cybersecurity offerings in K12 either through extra-curricular activities, direct cyber/technology classes or incorporating cyber concepts in other STEM courses.”

While CEROC will be managing funding and logistics for the project, the programmatic content is based on the SANS Girls Go CyberStart (GGCS) program. In early 2019, GGCS recruited 10,300 high school girls in 27 states, enabling them to discover their aptitude for and love of solving real-world cybersecurity problems. The interest in computer science and computer security careers doubled for the young women who participated in GGCS 2019 – from less than 40% to more than 80% reporting an interest in those careers from before to after participation. 

“Finding the next generation of cyber superstars is one of the grand challenges of information technology in the United States,” said, Alan Paller, President, SANS Technology Institute. “With support from the state governors, I cannot think of any group better qualified to find a way to meet that challenge than the dream team of CSforAll, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and WiCyS, all under the able leadership of Dr. Siraj and Tennessee Tech. It’s an honor to be playing a supporting role in their quest.” 

In each of the five target states, 25 teachers will be invited to participate and bring four to six students with them for the kickoff workshops held at Tech and four partner Universities that include George Mason University (VA), Purdue University (IN), Brookdale Community College (NJ) and University of Texas at Austin (TX). Pop-up challenges will be posted every two weeks from October through December to support recruitment for the GGCS competition which will begin in January. Selected teacher and student participants will lead workshops at the CSforAll and WiCyS conferences. 

“It is an exciting time to be a student in the cybersecurity arena,” said Siraj. “The opportunities are limitless. These efforts are especially important for women who represent less than 20% of the cyber sector.”

For more information on CEROC, the SANS Institute, SCforAll, the Computer Science Teachers Association and WiCyS, go to, or

Submit your story ideas to the Upper Cumberland Business Journal! via email.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.