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Virginia students find the keys to cybersecurity

Undergrad students from six different universities and colleges in the state come together for a new challenge.

NORFOLK, Va. — Turns out cybersecurity is human-centric. 

It's something students from six different Virginia colleges and universities -- Old Dominion, Christopher Newport, Norfolk State, College of William and Mary, Tidewater Community College and ECPI -- learned over the last semester through the INNOVATE Cyber Challenge. 

Courtesy of the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation (COVA CCI), students were placed on teams and given challenges to complete through "design thinking," a five-tool process. At the heart of that process wasn't something like coding or firewalls or passwords; it was empathy.

"One of the problems with organizations solving problems of process, is they solve the wrong problem," said ODU Professor of Educational Leadership and Provost of Design Thinking Karen Sanzo. Missing the actual problem is the result of missing out on the human component of these challenges. 

In addition, Sanzo touts teamwork, and eventually community, as the keys to successful cybersecurity. With students teamed off with contemporaries from different schools, the program ensures that they learn to work together in the most efficient way, while searching for the right problem to solve, and the right way to solve it.

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