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DSU's CybHER program sends 15 young women to science camp in Florida

Nick Nelson

The second annual Rocket Girls camp kicked off Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 15 young women from the area interested in cyber science are attending.

The girls boarded a plane Tuesday afternoon at the Sioux Falls Airport bound for the Kennedy Space Center.

Many of them are hoping to attend Dakota State University for cyber science, and they already have captivating backgrounds in the field.

18-year-old Hailee Crawford discovered her love for technology at a very early age.

"Ever since I was a kid, I always loved to take tech apart and just see how it works," says Crawford. "Whenever my parents had a problem with their phones or something, I could always fix it. I always thought it was really cool to be able to do that, and when I got into high school, I went to the CTE academy in Sioux Falls where I got to take a computer hardware and networking class, and that really helped me figure out what I wanted to do with that.”

Crawford says she’s happy that so many other girls are interested in cyber technology.

So is Kevin Manson, the co-founder of the Rocket Girls program and a South Dakota native. He is also a cyber analysis employee at the Kennedy Space Center. He says it’s important that people from all walks of life contribute to cyber science.

"I hate to see any particular group, regardless of their age, or their sex, or their ethnicity being excluded from any endeavor," says Manson. "Sometimes all they need is a little nudge, and a little support, and an opportunity to network with other like-minded people.”

Manson says he was inspired to start Rocket Girls by a book of the same name, and the film Hidden Figures.

The four-day camp is being sponsored by DSU’s CybHER program and AT&T.