UNM-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) student Rique Fernandez has been invited to attend a computer coding workshop in the Netherlands. Along with nine other students from Albuquerque, Espanola, and the Navajo Nation, Fernandez and is in Rotterdam to participate in Cyberheros, a “hackathon” event produced by Cyberworkplace, an organization which provides cyber security and teaches coding skills to youth.

Fernandez will be attending the event with Cultivating Coders, a nonprofit group that provides computer science and coding curriculum to rural high schools. Between her junior and senior years at Espanola Valley High School, Fernandez attended the Cultivating Coders 8-week summer program. The students studied coding and website skills, working on laptops which they were allowed to take home at the end of the program. Fernandez said, “I enjoyed the course because it was different than anything else I had ever done.”

Fernandez attended the course in the summer of 2017, then in December 2018, the president of Cultivating Coders, Charles Ashley III, invited her to participate in this workshop in Rotterdam.

“I was really surprised to be chosen for this opportunity,” said Fernandez. “It was so unexpected. The summer workshop was a year and a half ago, and I am a little nervous because I haven’t been working with coding since then.”

The workshop will introduce participants to CSI-type investigations. Sightseeing and touring are built into the agenda as well. Fernandez refers to this all-expense paid trip as “a blessing.”

Cybersecurity is an area of increasing national concern. UNM-LA developed a cybersecurity program in 2013 with funds from a National Science Foundation grant. Enrollment in the program continues to grow.

UNM-Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. For more information, visit UNM-LA