For Immediate Release
October 21, 2010
CyberPatriot Teams Prepare for Competition Preliminaries
Teams Across the Nation Prepare for Youth Cyber Competition
Arlington, VA – October 23 marks the start of this year’s CyberPatriot competition. Nationwide, teams are preparing for the largest and fastest-growing high school cybersecurity challenge in the nation.
Defending the Championship
Retired Major Kit Workman, Air Force Junior ROTC instructor for Clearfield High School, never expected his unit to win the championship for CyberPatriot II. But what Workman realized along the way was that teamwork and great mentors was the key.
“Teamwork is as important as knowledge when it comes to success with CyberPatriot,” Workman said. “I think we have the skill set, but can’t forget the teamwork. Everybody has to have their role.”
CyberPatriot, founded by the Air Force Association, a nonprofit organization headquartered outside of Washington, D.C., is an education initiative to engage high school students to science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields. It also offers students a hands-on opportunity to learn about cybersecurity while competing in the nation’s largest cyber defense challenge for high school students.
Major Workman applauds CyberPatriot for the many opportunities it has brought to his students. Last season’s competition earned the team members scholarships, further allowing two to attend college while pursuing computer-related degrees.
But for many of the students, the competition directly matched their interests.
“I just wanted to get more involved in computers and find out about something I like that I could use toward the future,” said Eric Takacs, junior at Clearfield High School and returning member of the Clearfield CyberPatriot team.
Braxton Allen, a junior at Clearfield High School but a rookie to the CyberPatriot competition, found the program fitting for his future career goals.
“I’ve always been interested in computers and I’ve been waiting for a program like this for a while,” Allen said. In fact, Allen was recently attracted to JROTC so he could compete in CyberPatriot.
Now, this Western team is practicing, studying up on cybersecurity and preparing to defend their championship against an even larger pool of competitors.
“I’m looking forward to winning the championship again for Clearfield,” Allen said.
The Civil Air Patrol’s Orlando Cadet Squadron, also known as Team Check-My-Dubs, is a returning team hoping to not just bring home the championship but also improve their cyber skills, which is why Coach Nina Harding first got involved in the program.
Harding was exceptionally attracted to the opportunities CyberPatriot provided to the students, including mentoring, job assistance and a chance to win scholarship money.
“I could see that CyberPatriot would help these students,” she said. “This program is a good way to surround the students with good mentors in the computer science and technology field, so they use their computer skills for good.”
Isaac Harding, current team captain and a sophomore, found CyberPatriot as an opportunity to use an interest and skills in a more proactive manner.
“Instead of being a hacker, you might as well defend against them because they’re more hackers than defenders these days,” he said. “It’s a good field to be invested in because the generations to come are going to need defenders.”
Sophomore Shawn Wilson, another member of Team Check-My-Dubs, first got interested in CyberPatriot after reading about it in a publication. Having had an interest in computers for years, he believed CyberPatriot would be an opportunity for him to do something with computers that he’s never previously done.
“I’ve used computers since I was five, but I’ve never really had to defend against attacks before,” he said. “I’m hoping to learn more about computer defense here.”
To prepare, the Orlando team has been practicing, speaking with mentors and covering key points of computer programming, finding importance in being assertive and informed. But even though Wilson is eager, he’s not really sure what to expect.
“You can only learn so much until you have to start thinking outside of the box.”
Matthew Allen, also a sophomore, joined for the educational value, wanting more knowledge and understanding of computers. Allen already plans to attend college and work toward a computers and technology degree.
“I am a little bit nervous, but I feel I am ready,” said Allen, a rookie to the competition.
During the competition, CyberPatriot teams virtually establish secure networks and ward off hostile attacks. The students are scored according to how quickly and effectively they establish and maintain secure networks.
This Saturday, October 23, 2010, the 475 teams that make up the All-Service Division will be competing to advance to the next round of CyberPatriot.
CyberPatriot is presented by Northrop Grumman, with founding partners SAIC and the CIAS at the University of Texas-San Antonio. More information can be found at www.uscyberpatriot.org.
The AFA is a 501(C)(3), nonprofit organization promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation. AFA has over 200 chapters nationally and internationally representing 120,000 members. Visit AFA www.AFA.org.
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