Published on 22/03/2024
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Ben Tucker, Diana Hawkins (both QinetiQ), Professor Vladlena Benson (Aston University), Simon Hepburn (The Security Institute) and Dr Anitha Chinnaswamy (Aston University)
Ben Tucker, Diana Hawkins (both QinetiQ), Professor Vladlena Benson (Aston University), Simon Hepburn (The Security Institute) and Dr Anitha Chinnaswamy (Aston University)
  • Aston Centre for Cyber Security Innovation at Aston University and QinetiQ collaborated for the event
  • QinetiQ, a leader in cyber security services, specialises in defence-grade solutions and threat assessments
  • The Cyber Explorer Day welcomed over 70 Year 8 girls from Worcestershire, aiming to inspire careers in cyber security through hands-on experiences and industry mentorship.

Aston University has collaborated with a leading company in cyber security services to host a Cyber Security Explorer Day to foster diversity and inclusion in the field of cyber security. 

Aston Centre for Cyber Security Innovation (CSI) and QinetiQ, which operates primarily in the defence, security and critical national infrastructure markets, hosted the event at Aston University on 6 March 2024 for over 70 Year 8 girls from three schools in the Malvern area to encourage local schoolgirls to consider careers in this rapidly growing industry. 

Professor Vladlena Benson (director, Aston Centre for CSI) and Dr Anitha Chinnaswamy (deputy director, Aston Centre for CSI) led the event, with support from the QinetiQ diversity programme based in Malvern. 

The event also served as a platform for bridging industry expertise with academia, offering insights and mentorship to aspiring cybersecurity professionals by providing hands-on experiences and exposure to industry role models.

The day featured interactive workshops focusing on online safety, cyber-hacking, and strategies for protecting against online threats. 

Additionally, the gadget guru competition provided students with a platform to explore their creativity and innovation, bringing to light their potential in the field of cyber.

Among organisers were Ben Tucker, a senior cyber consultant from QinetiQ, and Diana Hawkley, a senior diversity advisor both from QinetoQ. Simon Hepburn, CEO of The Security Institute, also shared valuable insights into the cyber security sector and his journey into the profession.

Professor Vladlena Benson said:

“Our goal is to inspire and empower the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, fostering diversity and inclusion every step of the way.”

Dr Anitha Chinnaswamy said:

“We are thrilled with the outcome of the Cyber Explorer Day and remain committed to nurturing the talents of young women in cybersecurity through innovative curriculum. 

“We hope to see more women registering for our newly launched MSc Cyber Security Management”. 

Professor Zoe Radnor, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences at Aston University, said:

“At Aston University, we recognise the importance of fostering an inclusive environment where individuals from all backgrounds can thrive, reaffirmed by the recent Athena Swan Gold Award for 2024.

“Aston University and the CSI Centre continue to lead the way in promoting diversity and inclusion in cybersecurity, paving the path for a more inclusive and secure digital future.”

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 7446 910063 or email:

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Sue Smith,
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Sam Cook,
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