Pearl Technology Focuses on Cybersecurity at 2022 STEM Academy

Pearl Technology Focuses on Cybersecurity at 2022 STEM Academy

6th–8th grade students learned about online safety and applied their skills

(Peoria Heights, Ill.) Pearl Technology recently helped teach middle school students about cybersecurity during the 2022 STEM Academy at Goodwill Commons in Peoria.

According to Dave Johnson, president of Pearl Technology: “Students heard from cybersecurity experts all week, including a former hacker who now works for the good guys. We wanted to give them an in-depth look at technology. So, instead of brushing the surface, we gave them a deep dive to spark interest in future technology opportunities.”

Other speakers included a cyber operations officer and commander at the Peoria Air National Guard, as well as an information security analyst from Mandiant who helps defend our country against terrorist cyberattacks. On the last day, students participated in a “Capture the Flag” competition that allowed them to use the skills picked up during the week. It concluded with a presentation by an FBI agent, who tied it all together.

Anthony Mini, senior vice president of security and operations at Pearl Technology, elaborated a bit more. “All week, we trained on different cybersecurity skills. We taught basic network security concepts to more advanced cyberattack techniques.”

Mini said there’s more opportunity for kids to acquire these skills than ever before, but the STEM Academy provided fundamental knowledge and tools to continue learning at home with videos and slides. “They already know a lot since they are around computers all the time. In fact, I was surprised by how much they knew and how quickly they picked things up. They had no trouble understanding or following what we shared. Exposing them now is important; jobs we will be doing in five years do not even exist today. So, the earlier they learn, the better prepared they’ll be for new opportunities.”

Open to 6th–8th grade students, the 2022 STEM Academy was held June 13–17 at Goodwill Commons and was hosted by Pearl Technology in collaboration with Richwoods Township, Caterpillar, and University of Illinois Extension.

Pearl Technology is headquartered in Peoria Heights, Ill., and has served as the technology resource to help businesses remain connected in a complex digital world for more than 35 years. A leader in technology and IT services, Pearl Technology specializes in cybersecurity, data centers, IT solutions, and audiovisual integration for clients in Central Illinois. The company also serves as a value-added reseller.