Computer coding event for girls returns to Camarillo

A two-day computer coding event aimed at middle and high school girls will be held in Camarillo in June. The event, dubbed Hackathon by the Sea – Girls Edition, hopes to “provide a positive environment for girls to use technology” through teaming up to code games, apps and websites.

The first Hackathon, held in 2017, enrolled 120 students for the event. Of those, only 18 were girls, says Juliet Herman, director of Career Education for the Ventura County Office of Education. The following year, the VCOE hosted its first Girls Edition of the Hackathon.

“We thought it might be a great idea to offer a safe space where young women or people who are interested in making sure women have an opportunity to go into these fields can create in a space that’s a little low stakes,” said Herman. The annual Hackathon is a 24-hour event wherein students form teams and work for the entirety of a day and night to complete their projects. “That’s a lot for students who have no experience or for younger students, so we created the girls hackathon to fill that space so that young women can have an opportunity to dip their feet into the water.”

The first girls’ edition Hackthon enrolled 60 girls. To date, 120 girls have signed up for the summer 2019 Girls Edition Hackathon, with a waiting list growing by the day.

The event will begin on Friday, June 21, with a dinner and team building exercises. The girls will meet mentors — professionals who work in STEM fields — and formulate a plan for the following day, when the teams will reconvene to work together toward their shared goals.

The mentors, says Herman, are an important part of the camp. The Hackathon – Girls Edition will include over 50 mentors from the tech field representing LinkedIn, Naval Base Ventura County and Apple, just to name a few.

Herman says that the ultimate goal of the Hackathon is to get young women interested early in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields so that they have a foundation upon which to build a career in the future.

“Currently in our STEM field, we are about 30-35 percent female on a good day,” said Herman. “We want young women to feel like they can enter that space with the same confidence and skill level as young men do. The world is represented by men and women and we want that voice in all of our industries.”

The Hackathon by the Sea – Girls Edition will be held on Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22, in Camarillo. For more information, to register or to volunteer as a mentor, visit www.hackathonbythesea.com.

CSU Channel Islands professor appointed to cybersecurity task force

California State University Channel Islands Program Chair and Professor of Computer Science Michael Soltys, Ph.D., has been appointed as an inaugural member of the California Cybersecurity Task Force created by former Gov. Jerry Brown.

The task force, a project of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, consists of seven subcommittees. Soltys will work within the Workforce Development and Education Subcommittee. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, an estimated 350,000 cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled nationwide with more than 37,000 of those jobs in California. One of the primary goals of the task force is to create highly trained individuals to fill said roles.

“Our aim is to create 50,000 professionals in this state over the next decade,” Soltys said. “We have to bear in mind that it is estimated that of those 37,000 jobs available, about 70 percent require a four-year degree.”

Soltys’ task force duties will include standardizing cybersecurity certification; teaching the general public about cyber-hygiene; and helping veterans transition into civilian cybersecurity jobs.

“This is good as many of them have military mindsets and come with security clearance,” said Soltys. “This is one area where we can help a lot at CSUCI.”

For more information on CSUCI, visit www.csuci.edu.