WESTON, Fla. - FBI agents are investing on the future of cyber security and they are harvesting talent in partnership with Broward County Public Schools with a pilot that engages students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
FBI Special Agent Alexis Carpinteri said the FBI/Cyber STEM program is an innovative recruiting effort that intents to enhance skills that already come naturally to some teens who grew up using computers and smart phones.
On Tuesday, Carpinteri and FBI Special Agent Brian Waterman were at Cypress Bay High School in Weston teaching portions of the honors Constitutional Law class. The agents guided the students on a bank robbery investigation exercise.
Waterman said students will get to "go out there and interview somebody, surveil somebody, be part of an FBI investigation and to give them that taste early while they are still learning about the cyber security aspects of their schooling."
Several FBI field offices will be involved in the program. For now, the Broward school is the second. Arlington Public Schools in Virginia requires students to complete 27 credits, a challenge and two activities to obtain the FBI-Cyber STEM Pathway certificate.
Carpiles said the students not only have to have good grades; they should also display good character and values. In turn, the agency will be willing to help get them get into colleges and universities that sponsor the CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program, part of the National Science Foundation.
The scholarship program requires students to pledge to participate in internships and work for the government after they complete their degree in cyber security. Some of the participating schools are Cargenie Mellon, John Hopkins University, George Washington University.
The students are excited. For Maia Dahl the program is a dream come true.
"I would always talk to my parents and say, 'oh, I would like to do something in law enforcement or the FBI,' and then when I found out they were offering the program at school it was like everything clicked," Maia said. "I have to do it. I have to apply."
Mathew Lebuffe said television shows featuring FBI agents working in cyber security tend to exaggerate the profession.
"It was cool to see what happens behind the scenes because none of that ever gets showed, it is only the dramatic stuff," Mathew said.
Paul-Christian Dubois Webber said he too has always wanted a career in law enforcement.
"When a class combined computers and law enforcement I thought it was neat," Paul-Christian said.
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