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Q&A: Interview - The HacKid Conference 2014
I recently found out about a great event that I wanted to share with readers, it's called: The HacKid Conference.  To learn more and share more details about the event, I spoke with Chris Hoff, one of the event organizers and the VP of Strategic Planning within the Security Business Unit at Juniper Networks.  If you and your family are in the San Jose, CA area, this sounds like a great show to attend.

VMblog:  How did you come up with the idea for The HacKid Conference?

Chris Hoff:  Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and at the same time, kids are using computers and devices at younger ages. So we started HacKid in 2010 in Boston, and the idea behind the conference was to gather industry experts to provide a hands-on, family experience to give kids that spark that will set them on a journey that only "hacking" can inspire.

VMblog:  And why do you think kids should learn about hacking?

Hoff:  "Hacking" is the word our IT security community chooses to use to describe creative, fun and innovative ways of exploring problem solving. We created the conference to provide an interactive, hands-on experience for kids and their parents- in order to raise awareness, excitement and understanding of technology, gaming, mathematics, safety, privacy, networking, security and engineering and their impact on society and culture. We focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) enablement.

VMblog:  What do you have planned on the agenda?

Hoff:  We have about 30 sessions over two days, and they cover topics including: staying safe online, dealing with cyber bullies, online gaming safety, how the internet works. The interactive portion of the conference concentrates on even more technical topics, like interactive robot building, manipulating hardware and software for fun, 3D printing and more.

VMblog:  Sounds really interesting.  Can you give us an idea of who will be attending?

Hoff:  The minimum age is 5 and the maximum is 17 years old for children.  It's great to see tremendous mentorship by older kids, while five year olds have the capacity and attention span to enjoy many of the events. We also enjoy a fantastic mix of racial, gender and cultural diversity that reflects our community of amazing kids and the next generation. Also, we encourage girls to attend the conference. In fact, our last event had 52% female attendees! We are psyched about how many females attend - both as participants and teachers/session leads. This year we have over 50% females leading sessions - including kids!

VMblog:  How are parents involved at the conference?

Hoff:  HacKid is a family-focused event, and we want parents/legal guardians to participate with their kids for the best experience. Also, while the activities are chosen to be as safe as possible, there are numerous things that require supervision and guidance to ensure safety. We don't need a 1:1 ratio of parent/child, but we do require that a parent or legal guardian is on site all day to attend the conference with their kids; HacKid is not a drop-off or unsupervised activity.

VMblog:  Who came together to organize this event?

Hoff:  The HacKid Advisory Board is a group of people who regularly attend, speak at, and help organize large-scale and professional conferences, so we know what is required to ensure a smooth, enjoyable, interesting, and safe conference experience. We've also planned an event called DEF CON Kids, now called r00tz Asylum, which occurs in Vegas after the DEF CON security conference. For HacKids, we've recruited volunteers to lead sessions, and these session leaders are experts in their fields. We've also encouraged kids to lead sessions so they can share their knowledge. We've also had volunteers help to donate and set up equipment for the event, such imaging laptops, and setting up legos for a fully computerized lego derby race track.  Company sponsors include Juniper Networks, Kaspersky Labs, Wickr and No Starch Press. The conference is also made possible by generous family donations.

VMblog:  Let's help people find this great event.  When and where is the conference?  And what is the link to register/attend?

Hoff:  The conference will be held April 19-20 at The Tech Museum in San Jose, CA. This venue is perfect for HacKid - we will be using their facilities to host our event and simultaneously provide access to the entire Museum's exhibit space!

For more information and to register, visit: http://www.hackid.org/.

Published Thursday, April 17, 2014 6:29 AM by David Marshall
Comments
Sold out Hackid conference a big success | SiliconANGLE - (Author's Link) - April 21, 2014 8:36 AM
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