A West Lothian College computing lecturer has been shortlisted for the Cyber Educator Award at the forthcoming Scottish Cyber Awards.

Christine Eckford has been recognised for her work with the Cyber Cyphers, a group of ten students who took part in a bespoke cyber security course for neurodivergent young people with conditions like Asperger's and Autism.

The students took part in the ten-week course from October to December 2020 in one of the college’s new state-of-the-art Cyber Labs. They studied the fundamentals of cyber security, learned about the relevant legislation and took part in hands-on practical work where they learned how to identify security issues and develop skills to protect against these.

Students also benefited from a variety of leading cyber security industry experts that Christine invited to speak to them. All students completed the course and some are now studying on full-time cyber security courses at the college this year.

Much of that success was down to the lecturer/student relationship and Christine made sure she was available to students at all times. Her students also appreciated Christine sharing her own experiences as a neurodivergent person.

On being nominated, Christine said:

“It’s an honour to be considered in this category, especially when I’m surrounded by a great team of lecturers and colleagues at West Lothian College. I can’t thank the college and students enough for believing in me. 

“The students were inspirational and worked so hard throughout the course. The project was a joint effort between the college, students and partners, so everyone involved deserves an equal share of the success!"

College principal, Jackie Galbraith said:

“I am over the moon that Christine is a finalist in the Cyber Educator category at this year’s Scottish Cyber Awards. She is an outstanding lecturer with a talent for making cyber security qualifications accessible to a wide range of people, helping them gain highly sought-after skills.”

The Scottish Cyber Awards, now in its fifth year, has quickly established itself as a cornerstone of the annual Cyber calendar of events in Scotland. The awards ceremony will take place during Cyber Scotland Week on November 18 at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh.