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Delaware Valley Teens Train For Front Line In War Against Cybercrime

By tech editor Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Terrorists are increasingly looking toward our nation's infrastructure to launch attacks. The government is turning, in part, to Delaware Valley teens to secure the power grid, water and transportation systems in the future.

The country's best bet is to start them young.

"We know that there are about a million computer jobs that are going to be available in 2020 and no one there to fill them," says Dr. Jamie Bracey, who heads Temple University's Math, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program.

Middle and high school students from Philadelphia and the suburbs volunteer to take courses during their free time.

Homeland Security and the Navy consider it part of a kind of 'farm system' for those who will be on the front lines of the cyber fight:

"They're looking at not having enough people to come into the pipeline, and the fact that it takes about 10 years to really produce a solid engineer or a solid tech expert," Bracey says. "They want very digitally literate citizens protecting the nation while they're out providing global support."

Several dozen students from Philadelphia and the suburbs will be at the White House on Tuesday for a briefing from high-level national security officials.

Where some children are hooked on games and mobile apps, Bracey says MESA teaches them how to program -- and, in turn, positions them well to help protect the country's critical systems from hackers who want to do harm.

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