University of Wyoming students will get hands on experience in software design and cyber security while also getting in some volunteer time as part of a new partnership with the Laramie Soup Kitchen.

Adopt a Nonprofit is being coordinated by Made Safe in Wyoming, a Laramie-based nonprofit organization that aims to help businesses and organizations become cyber secure. As part of the program, the UW Computer Science capstone class will provide free technology services to the Laramie Soup Kitchen, in the form of security and database services.

Laura Baker, Co-Founder of Made Safe in Wyoming, said that many small businesses and nonprofits are often vulnerable when it comes to cyber security.

“Nonprofits are terribly underserved when it comes to cybersecurity and the issues that go along with that,” Baker said. “Small and medium-sized businesses are very prone to attack. They’re using them to get to bigger businesses are using them to get into the bigger businesses.”

Baker says the Laramie Soup Kitchen is a perfect example. While pursuing their mission of zero food waste in Laramie, cyber security falls by the wayside.

“The fact that they’re prone to attack in the first place and then in addition, they are non-profit so they don’t have a lot of money to invest in cybersecurity allows this program to come alive,” Baker said.

The project will provide much-needed cyber security to the Laramie Soup Kitchen and students will be able to get hands-on experience for their resume. Students who want to specialize in hardware technology and security of programming databases will be able to get involved in a number of security and database projects.

“That’s one of the best parts. They get to put this on their resume that they did this project,” Baker said. “They are going to have all of these very specific jobs that they can put on their resume.”

Some of the projects the students will work on include separating the guest and private Wi-Fi are separate to reduce the possibility of attack as well as creating a database to track volunteers and food donations. With the database project, the soup kitchen will be able to keep track of 600 volunteers and the 116,000 pounds of food the soup kitchen works with.

The Adopt a Nonprofit project is expected to wrap up during the 2017-2018 school year. Baker says if all goes well, they will implement the program elsewhere in Laramie and across Wyoming.

“If this works this year, we would like to expand it to LCCC and other community colleges throughout the state,” Baker said. “This is kind of a pilot project at this point but the plan is to continue on.”