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Air Force Junior ROTC partners with CSforALL to bring computer science, cyber education to classrooms

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Vanessa Saks
  • Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC

Air Force Junior ROTC and CSforAll have teamed up on a pilot program to grow and diversify the technology workforce in computer science and cyber education.

The program is designed to increase Air Force Junior ROTC cadet participation in college preparatory computer science and cybersecurity programs, improve the diversity and size of the national technical talent pool and increase access to computer science and cyber security in U.S. high schools.

“The CSforALL mission is to ensure all students have access to rigorous preparation for the technical jobs of the future,” Said Ruthe Farmer, chief evangelist at CSforALL. “This innovative collaboration brings together the extensive Air Force Junior ROTC network of dedicated instructors and cadets with CSforALL’s national community of computer science education experts. We are excited to work together to create a model to provide evidence-based computer science and cybersecurity education for all JROTC students nationwide and their schools.”

CSforAll is the national hub for the computer science movement that works to enable all students in grades K-12 to achieve computer science literacy as an integral part of their educational experience both in and out of school. CSforALL draws upon the expertise and resources of their membership of more than 500 content providers, education associations, non-profits, researchers and industry supporters to build the capacity of the high schools to provide rigorous, inclusive and sustainable computer science education for all students.

“The initial collaboration will include about 30 high schools that have Air Force Junior ROTC units,” said Todd Taylor, chief of Program Development, Air Force Junior ROTC. “We hope to develop a successful model to expand across all of our units and our sister services in the near future.” 

The program will start off when cadets are freshmen, introducing them to cyber education by participating in the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot, a national competition that puts student teams in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Cadets also get an opportunity to participate in summer CyberCamps, with hands-on learning of cybersecurity principles that are relevant and applicable to everyday life.

In their sophomore year, students are encouraged to enroll in the newly established computer science courses. Although school districts vary across the country, this course would potentially count toward a student’s core math or science requirements.

Successfully completing the freshman and sophomore pre-requisites, students would be eligible to apply for an Air Force Junior ROTC Cyber Summer Scholarship. The summer program would be mirrored on the Air Force Junior ROTC Flight Academy Scholarship and would most likely be several weeks on a university campus, provide college credit and end with a capstone event outside the classroom.

The Air Force JROTC Flight Academy, Chief of Staff Private Pilot Scholarship program, is an approximately eight-week summer aviation training program conducted at partnering universities nationwide. Upon successful completion of the program, students are awarded a private pilot’s certification. The Flight Academy is intended to inspire and encourage high school youth toward aviation careers.

Though the classes will be open to all high school students, the Cyber Summer Scholarship will only be awarded to cadets enrolled in the JROTC program.

“The scholarship is really the icing on the cake, which incentivizes interested cadets along the cyber pathway,” said Farmer. “We at CSforALL are excited about the impact this initiative will have for the youth of the United States. Beyond bringing JROTC cadets into technology career pathways, this initiative has the potential to provide access to advance placement computer science for an additional 2.6 million students that attend JROTC high schools.”

This initiative is funded by the JROTC-CS Advisory Consortium of education organizations and industry partners. Confirmed partners in addition to Air Force Junior ROTC and CSforALL are Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Capital One, Lockheed Martin, Snap Inc., the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot and the College Board.

The mission of Air Force Junior ROTC is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community, while instilling values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and sense of accomplishment. There are more than 125,000 high school students enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC at more than 880 high schools in the U.S and overseas.