SAN DIEGO (NNS) – Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) engaged with local Girl Scouts throughout the San Diego region in a virtual cybersecurity workshop, October 10, sparking excitement and igniting interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
This virtual Cybersecurity Triple Badge Workshop aims to help Junior Girl Scouts, ages 10-12, develop the technical skills needed to explore new opportunities, keep themselves safe and thrive while earning their cybersecurity basics, safeguards and investigator badges.
“Our goal with this event was to expose girls to STEM subjects like cybersecurity, building confidence in a subject that have historically been dominated by males,” said Claire Maunsell, STEM program specialist at Girl Scouts San Diego. “We also wanted to take this opportunity to connect participants with female role models in cybersecurity, enabling them to visualize a future in STEM.”
Jara Tripiano, NAVWAR cybersecurity engineering principal technical manager, participated as a speaker in the virtual event during the cybersecurity basics session, highlighting the importance of STEM outreach. She spoke from personal experience, sharing her story of how she became interested in STEM at an early age.
“I always liked math, but it wasn’t until third grade when I figured out that I was good at it,” explained Tripiano. “None of the books I read or movies I watched portrayed girls or women excelling in science or math. In third grade, at the end of the year, my teacher presented me with the ‘Best Math Student’ trophy, and honestly, I was shocked. That was the first time anyone, including me, recognized I had an aptitude for math. It inspired me to explore activities and educational opportunities in STEM.”
Tripiano went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in Weapons and Systems Engineering from the United States Naval Academy followed by a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Arizona. She then became a Naval Aviator where she completed two operational deployments onboard USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and USS Lake Champlain (CG-57).
“Cybersecurity touches almost everything we do,” said Jara. “As a former helicopter pilot in the Navy, I have developed a tremendous appreciation for cybersecurity. When I was flying, I was highly reliant on cyber-enabled technology for both ground and flight operations. The security of those systems directly impacted the operational safety of my helicopter, as well as the safety of my life and the lives of those around me. This awareness drove me to pursue a future in cybersecurity and it’s why we need others to do the same.”
Following her career in naval aviation, Tripiano pursued a profession in cybersecurity. She now serves as NAVWAR’s cybersecurity engineering principal technical manager, delivering innovative and timely solutions to challenging cybersecurity issues for the Navy, Department of Defense and other agency customers.
Other female cyber experts who spoke at the event’s cybersecurity basics session included:
- Nichole Peterson, Girl Scouts STEM lead
- Alexandra Albro, Vice President and General Counsel, ESET North America
- Jennie Brooks, Sr. Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
Currently NAVWAR employs more than 3,500 cybersecurity professionals in San Diego, which is about 40% of the regional total according to a 2019 study conducted by the San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence.
Trained cybersecurity experts are in high demand, and the need for cyber professionals will continue to grow. This workshop is just one example of NAVWAR’s continued dedication to inspiring the next generation of tech talent to pursue a future in cybersecurity, exposing youth to STEM skills, educational paths and career opportunities.
NAVWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities and services that enable naval, joint, coalition and other national missions operating in warfighting domains from seabed to space and through cyberspace. NAVWAR consists of more than 11,000 civilian, active duty and reserve professionals located around the world.
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