ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — This spring, a group of young, aspiring New Mexico coders will train in Rotterdam to be “CyberHeroes” during a weeklong trip to the Netherlands paid for by the U.S. Embassy there.
Rotterdam-based Cyberworkspace, which trains youngsters in “ethical hacking” to shore up the Netherlands’ cybersecurity workforce, will host 10 high school students from New Mexico who graduated from Albuquerque-based Cultivating Coders’ free summer trainings. Three Cultivating Coders leaders and instructors will accompany the group, which includes program graduates from Albuquerque, Española and the Navajo Nation.
It’s the first trip in a new exchange that will bring a group of Netherlands youngsters to New Mexico next year, also on the U.S. Embassy’s dime, said Cultivating Coders founder and President Charles Ashley III.
“We want to expose young people to the endless possibilities and opportunities out there in the world,” Ashley said. “This is a springboard for them. Some of them have never even been outside Albuquerque.”
During the “CyberHeroes” training, the visiting coders will take on hacker battles, working on cyber challenges with the local police and with international cybercrime professionals. They’ll learn hands-on cyber skills and study the history of cryptography.
Sightseeing and touring is part of the program, including a patrol boat adventure in the Rotterdam harbor, Europe’s largest port.
“I am beyond enthusiastic about this collaboration,” said Cyberworkspace Chairman Anouk Vos in a statement. “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.”
Ashley and Vos met two years ago in Albuquerque, where Vos attended a workshop sponsored by Global Ties ABQ, the local arm of the U.S. State Department’s Global Ties U.S. network. The two discussed ways to collaborate, and the exchange partnership grew from there.
To date, Cultivating Coders has graduated 120 middle and high school students from its summer training boot camps.