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 near Washington, D.C., is an education initiative that offers high school students a hands-on opportunity to learn about computers, technology and cybersecurity while competing in the nation's largest youth cyber defense challenge.
Workman applauds CyberPatriotfor the many opportunities it has brought to his unit, including scholarships that allowed two of his previous students to attend college while pursuing computer-related degrees.
But for many of the students, the competition matched their interests.
"I've always been interested in computers and I've been waiting for a program like this for a while," said Braxton Allen, junior at Clearfield High School and rookie to this year's 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 Orlando Cadet Squadron is hoping to not just bring home the championship but also improve their cyber skills.
"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," said CyberPatriotCoach Nina Harding.
Sophomore Isaac Harding, current team captain, found CyberPatriot as an opportunity to use interests 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," he said. "It's a good field to be invested in because the generations to come are going to need good cyber defenders."
To prepare, the Orlando team is practicing, speaking with mentors and covering key points of computer programming. Sophomore Shawn Wilson, another member of the Orlando Cadet Squadron, is eager though he's not sure what to expect.
"You can only learn so much until you have to start thinking outside of the box."
On October 23, 2010, the 475 teams of 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.