More than 80 high school students from eight Early College STEM Chicago Public Schools spent the day immersed in cybersecurity activities at Richard J. Daley College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and Illinois Tech.

At Daley College, students spent the morning controlling stop lights with program logic controls, learning how to crack a password, and participating in a hands-on workshop with robots and virtual reality. They also heard about how vital cybersecurity is becoming in advanced manufacturing – and the in-demand careers that will follow.

At Illinois Tech, students participated in cybersecurity-based “escape room” activities, including using open-source intelligence (OSINT), a method of gathering information from public or other open sources, which can be used by security experts, national intelligence agencies, or cybercriminals. They also had to pick locks and use encryption and decryption to find and rescue Illinois Tech’s mascot, Talon the Hawk.

“Studying cybersecurity is a smart choice, and so is getting your degree with Early College classes at Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges,” said City Colleges Provost Mark Potter. “These kinds of pathways from the Chicago Roadmap give you the opportunity to focus on a subject that you love and prepare for an in-demand career that pays well even sooner.”

Over the last year, Illinois alone has seen more than 22,000 cybersecurity job openings. A career in cybersecurity is not only plentiful but also lucrative, with starting salaries at $95,000, scaling up to an average of $121,100 annually in Illinois.

About the Chicago Roadmap
The strongest ever partnership between Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago Roadmap innovates and implements a suite of structural supports and programs. We center the five pillars of our work around equity to better support the path to college and career for diverse students and learners. Learn more at