CEHC Hosts Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York to Earn Cybersecurity Badges

Members of the CEHC community and a group of young Girl Scouts make a heart symbol with their hands inside the ETEC "Science on a Sphere" room.
A group of Girl Scouts visit the "Science on a Sphere" at ETEC to view a global malware spread map. (Photo by Mike Nolan)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 12, 2024) —The College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) hosted dozens of Girl Scouts from across the Capital Region on Saturday.

The girls, ranging in age from first to 12th grade, spent the day at the ETEC research and development complex, participating in hands-on activities and discussions with CEHC students, faculty and staff, on their way to earning three Girl Scout cybersecurity badges.

The field trip was part of a growing partnership between CEHC and the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York.

“We’ve had a long-standing partnership with the local Girl Scouts, who have participated in several CEHC events, including our annual Lego challenge for elementary students,” said CEHC Vice Dean Jennifer Goodall. “We’re always looking for ways to encourage gender diversity in STEM.  Having a captive audience of Girl Scouts on campus is a great way to do that. We hope they all walked away with more cybersecurity awareness and knowledge about the importance of this field.”

“With women and girls underrepresented in STEM fields, our partnership with CEHC offers engaging opportunities, like this one, for Girl Scouts to cultivate these skills,” said Linda Stephen, Girl Scout Experience Specialist at GSNENY. “We look forward to more collaboration on experiential learning opportunities with UAlbany in the future.”

CEHC students stand with Girl Scouts in front of the drone pop-up tent at ETEC.
CEHC students Diamond Booknight (far right) and Madina Nasiri lead a drone demonstration with Girl Scouts. (Photo by Mike Nolan)

During the visit, the girls were split into two groups, one for first through sixth graders and one for seventh through 12th graders. 

The younger group spent the day engaging with hands-on activities in the atrium of ETEC, including operating drones and robotics at CEHC’s drone pop-up tent. They also toured the “Science on Sphere” room, an educational tool that can be used to track climate data and cyber incidents on a six-foot diameter projector globe, and CEHC’s makerspace, which has 3D printers, laser cutters, soldering irons and a variety of other emerging tech and hardware.

The older group toured CEHC’s cyber research spaces, including the Hack-IoT (Internet of Things), Cyber & Cryptography, Open Source Intelligence and Cyber Cascade Risk labs. They also ran through a simulation in CEHC’s Operations Command Center of a disaster event at a Taylor Swift concert.

“I put out a challenge to our students to come up with cyber topics that were engaging enough to keep the attention of our guests,” said C. Ariel Pinto, chair of CEHC’s Department of Cybersecurity and director of the Cyber Cascade Risk lab. “It was a great mentorship opportunity for them. We look forward to continued engagement with the Girl Scouts and other similar groups who are interested in our work.”

The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York represents over 8,500 Girl Scouts in 15 counties including Albany, Clinton, Columbia, Greene, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Montgomery, Hamilton, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren and Washington. To learn more and get involved in Girl Scouting, visit www.girlscoutsneny.org.