15th March 2022
“These cyber security workshops we have piloted go beyond things you learn on the syllabus. It’s different and brings students even closer to knowing what working in the sector is really like.”
The Hi Tech & Digital Centre at South Devon College hosts a vast range of digital sectors, one of those key sectors being computing. Within is a passionate group of students studying their Level 3 Computing Diploma that are keen to push their knowledge in cyber security further and discover more of what the high-in-demand sector has to offer.
The College formed a great partnership with TechEd, who in collaboration with South West Cyber Futures and the South West Cyber Security Cluster, designed a suite of cyber security workshops that South Devon College had the privilege of supporting by being amongst the first to run them.
Former student, now computing lecturer Liam Bottomley facilitates the sessions that are delivered by industry professionals and span over the course of the academic year. Covering a range of topics, students can dive deep into technical sessions using a platform called Immersive Labs.
This online resource allows users to freely work and experiment on a virtual computer to learn about exploits and weaknesses in system security without the risk of compromising their own physical device. It has a range of practical tasks where you have to answer questions by exploring the virtual system and finding out the information you need, and for every lab completed you receive points making learning quite competitive here.
Connor Rosindale, 18, from Torquay, is one of the students taking part in these workshops. He said “It is really valuable to work with such freedom that if something goes wrong, there’s no consequences. Having the space to take risks, push boundaries and make those mistakes means we can learn the skills we need, understand what can be exploited, and as a result learn to create more secure systems.”
Another computing student Eddie Meanley, 18, from Newton Abbot, said: “The kind of things we’re learning are not things the average person would know. Some of these skills and methods we’re learning are illegal in normal circumstances and can only be used in situations where you’re given the authority. Understanding various attack methods means we better understand how to defend against them. It’s always better to have the skills and not need it than be defenseless in this world.”
As well as teaching about the technical aspects and tools from the world of cyber security, such as Linux command line, Metasploit, and Burp Suite to name a few, there are also sessions dedicated to employability in this sector and discovering the route you want to take.
‘Building your skills and your portfolio’ and ‘The importance of CVs and evidence when applying for roles in cyber’ were sessions that students valued.
Connor said: “It’s always great to have a bigger picture of what you can do and aim for, but also know what alternatives there are in that sector so that you have back up plans of where you want to take your career if you decide a particular area isn’t for you.”
Eddie said: “It connects the dots and shows us what that practice can turn into. You might initially think what you’re doing is quite small and maybe irrelevant, but if you develop that core skill then it can transfer into many of the different jobs we looked at in today’s session.”
Steve Caunter, Assistant Principal added “this activity is key in exposing learners to the skills needed in any digitally influence sector. In addition to the students receiving industry specific training, the opportunity supports the development of problem solving, creative thinking and communication skills.”