CyberPatriot season IX is in the books for Union Pines High School team 10668, Syntax Error. The Navy JROTC team seen below navigated 4 rounds of competition, gathering awards and leaving other teams in their wake. Don’t let the friendly faces fool you, these are trained cyber fighters.
From left to right: Charlotte Craven, Eric Hutchison, Nick Mihalovich (Cpt), AJ Sanders, & Brendan Bemis. Not shown: Team 10668 Sponsors MGySgt Keith Dangerfield & Capt. John Ferguson, Coach Will Herring
What is CyberPatriot? CyberPatriot is an annual competition among civilian and JROTC, high school teams stretching five continents. It was created and is run by the Air Force Association in connection with Northrup Grumman and Cisco Systems. It tests student teams' ability to detect, deflect and prevent ongoing cyber attacks of various computer systems.
Student teams "play" through the cyber-breach scenarios created by AFA/NorthrupGrumman during marathon-like sessions, Saturdays throughout the fall and winter. Students have to possess great skill, teamwork, and tenacity to be successful in the competition.
“The competition puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services...” (CyberPatriot Website, February 26, 2017)
Link to AFA CYberPatriot Website
Syntax Error scored well in the first two rounds of the international competition and earned an invitation to the “Gold Tier” end-of-season tournament. There, the team came in 2nd of all-service teams in North Carolina winning an award and advanced to the semi-final “Category” round of the end game.
Why we Compete and Your Group Should Too: CyberPatriot is fun! The live scoreboard and team nature of the events makes this program one to which students are drawn and compelled to help each other grow and succeed. Participants learn to work towards common goals, critical thinking, problem analysis, problem solving, leadership competencies, and that doesn’t even touch the future life and career skills that come from deeply understanding technology and cyber security. Through the game, students learn the underlying competencies that demystify an increasingly interconnected world and prepare them to thrive there.
“By participating in CyberPatriot, students are introduced to an exciting and lucrative career path. In addition to learning teamwork and organizational skills that set them apart in the STEM job market, Competitors benefit from direct tutelage by industry professionals that volunteer through the CyberPatriot Mentor Program.” (CyberPatriot Website, February 26, 2017)
What’s Next: Practices have already begun for CyberPatriot season X. The teams going back to basics, tearing down cpu towers to build the foundation for success in the fall. The success of team 10668 has drawn in new interest and UPHS looks to host more teams next year. Thanks to the ongoing support through grants from the Moore County Schools Public Education Foundation, UPHS will have the devices and funding to expand this opportunity to all of our students thinking about CyberSecurity and/or Computer Science careers.