Is there a topic hotter than cybersecurity right now? From election hacking to identity theft to corporate espionage, one of the FBI's primary missions is preventing and identifying cyber crimes, and catching cyber criminals.
"We are concerned with foreign threats, we are concerned about internal threats as well, we just don't know where the threat is coming from, and that's the beauty and the scary part of the internet, you don't know who's behind the keyboard," said FBI Special Agent Alexis Carpinteri.
Now the Bureau is extending its expertise to high schools. So far, 29 students have signed up for the new FBI Cyber STEM Program at Weston's Cypress Bay High School. It's one of only two such programs in the entire nation, the other is in Pittsburgh, and it's all about making students think
"That brings me to our question of the day, which is, are we too reliant on technology?" said teacher Lisa Herron to her class.
You could almost feel the brainwaves colliding after Herron posed that question to her informational technology class. Her students are techies, they signed up for the FBI Cyber STEM course, and they're learning how to be analytical in their thinking.
"And also they'll be doing some activities that are sponsored by the FBI so they'll be able to do some unique activities you don't get in just a traditional computer classroom," Herron said.
Traditional classes don't have FBI agents involved in formulating the curriculum, as they did in this program. The students must take five classes in three years, including AP Computer Science, ACE Informational Technology, and Comprehensive Law. They also participate in mandatory FBI field exercise activities.
"So we want them to learn these critical skills, and then show them some practical applications, how does it work in the real world? How does this unique skill, this highly sought-after, critical need, how is it going to translate into actually making a difference in protecting the nation?" explained Special Agent Carpinteri.
So what does the FBI gain from this partnership? Every student in the program is a potential recruit who can bring cyber skills to the Bureau.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing if I have a chance in this field," said sophomore Vanessa Bohorquez.
"Potentially, in the future, I think being FBI would be cool and it's something I would want to do," freshman Jeremy Antecol said.
The world saw the unprecedented activism of teenagers after the Parkland tragedy. The FBI sees that as a huge opportunity.
"We've seen in recent events that this generation wants to be involved, they are invested in their community and they want to make a difference, it's exactly the type of person we are looking for," Carpinteri said.
And exactly the type of career the kids might be looking for as well.