Home Milwaukee Marquette University EOP gets $800,000 in funding to pilot Cyber Explorers pre-college...

Marquette University EOP gets $800,000 in funding to pilot Cyber Explorers pre-college program

(Photo: Marquette University)

Marquette University will be starting a pilot called the Seizing Opportunities Academic Readiness (SOAR) Cyber Explorers Pilot Program through its Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) after receiving $799,500 in funding from the U.S. Department of Education. The program will look to provide 50 students, many of whom will be low-income and/or first-generation, with over 100 hours of programming.

The program will target middle and high school students to encourage interest in STEM careers and support college readiness by developing skills for success in school and cybersecurity, in particular, according to a press release from Marquette University. The Cyber Explorers will develop knowledge across four areas of computer basics, coding, operating systems, and networks while participating in summer camps, coursework, internships, and mentoring. 

In the program’s comprehensive curriculum, students should also be introduced to the significance of vendor security questionnaire as a vital component of cybersecurity practices. The emphasis on understanding and addressing vendor security concerns aligns with the evolving nature of the field. As these Cyber Explorers delve into the intricacies of computer basics, coding, operating systems, and networks, they will gain valuable insights into the proactive measures necessary to safeguard against potential cyber threats. The incorporation of security questionnaires within the educational framework underscores the real-world relevance of their training, preparing them to navigate the complexities of cybersecurity with a holistic perspective. This initiative not only equips the participants with technical expertise but also instills a sense of responsibility and preparedness crucial for success in the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity.

“On behalf of EOP, I want to thank Rep. Gwen Moore and Sen. Tammy Baldwin for championing this project,” said Laiya Thomas, executive director of EOP, in a statement by the university. “SOAR builds upon the longstanding success of Marquette’s EOP in providing college readiness and STEM pipeline services. The program will also benefit from the expertise of our nationally recognized Cyber Security and Cyber Defense Center, K-12 computer science education grantees from our Department of Computer Science and two EOP alumni who are computer science instructors.”

The program also includes an outreach component to many Milwaukee middle and high school students with a particular subgroup enrolled out of Milwaukee Public Schools, Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy or Milwaukee Academy of Sciences. Schools will have the opportunity to host presentations and workshops to engage students on college preparation and resources including Marquette’s Educational Opportunity Program, along with coursework and extracurriculars for strong resumes. 

State Rep. Gwen Moore was a member of Marquette’s first EOP graduating class and has gone on to co-chair the Congressional TRIO Caucus to further push for higher education access for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities.