CyberGuide Guest Blog: Lauren McNew

Lauren McNew, PD COMSEC, Cryptographic Systems
 This is my second year working with the eCYBERMISSION Program, and I’ve been even more impressed with the student participants this year than last!

Being a CyberGuide has been a tremendously rewarding way to be involved with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) on my own time. I’ve invested a couple of hours each week answering questions, monitoring the forums and acting as a subject matter expert to provide advice to students on their projects. I’ve provided online assistance to several teams, mainly to help with the development of engineering design statements and hypotheses.
Two teams in particular stand out in my mind. They both had developed concepts for their projects that were far beyond my expectations and clearly demonstrated that there are a number of advanced, competitive teams this year. I’ve also spent some time giving Webinars to address areas that have provided valuable information to the students along the way. The great thing about eCYBERMISSION is that there are many different STEM Volunteer positions to be filled with varying degrees of time commitment. The program provides a great opportunity for even the busiest of professionals to give back to their community by advising students, judging Mission Folders, or advocating for the program.

In 2011, I participated in Army Labs Day at the National Judging and Educational Event in Washington, D.C., for the 2010-2011 competition. I was amazed by how many interesting and downright cool things in which the students participated during the course of the week. They had incredible access to the sites of the city along with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, including a demonstration by the Black Ops Brothers, Howe and Howe Tech, developers of the Ripsaw. I loved seeing the expressions on the student’s faces after they left the event!

I also watched as the beloved Non-Commissioned Officers challenged the students to eat the crackers from a Meal, Ready-To-Eat in two minutes without any liquids, which is apparently a rite of passage and was very entertaining for all of us in attendance. There are actually several websites with videos tackling this challenge online! The students had ample opportunity to network with other students from around the country and with U.S. Army professionals. There is nothing more rewarding than providing a student with motivation, excitement and sound guidance to develop their future in STEM related fields.

McNew at Army Labs Day
 I’m so excited to have been a part of the eCYBERMISSION Competition this year, and I’m eager to see which team will win. I’m sure the projects that win will be innovative and unique. I’m proud of the contribution that I’ve made, and I sincerely hope that the program will have even more Volunteers next year to act as a subject matter expert base for the students. I’m hoping that the work that I’ve done with students in this year’s competition will invigorate them to continue to work hard in school and pursue their dreams!

Best of luck to all of the teams!

Lauren McNew


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