Develops cybersecurity, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future.
Posted on March 6, 2019 by Scot Allen
By Scot Allen
We see it in the news nearly every day. A website gets hacked or someone has their credit information stolen. What do we do about it? The Mid-Pacific CyberPatriot team may be able to help!
New to Mid-Pacific this year, the team is comprised of middle and high school (and soon, elementary) students.
"We are very excited to help in the education of our students by offering a great platform for them to learn and test their new skills in protecting themselves and their data," said Coach and Director of Education Technology Brian Grantham.
CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future. At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The competition puts teams of 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.
The Mid-Pacific team was formed after students expressed an interest to Grantham about the CyberPatriot completion as a way to augment the current curriculum. Grantham is quick to credit guidance from the team's tech mentors, parents Tony (a retired Air Force network specialist) and Mika (NSA) Simpson and 1993 Mid-Pacific graduate Brad Tada, who works at a local bank's technology department.
"Once we had the necessary support, getting the kids organized was easy," Grantham said. "They were looking for a method to learn more about secure networking, so it was a no-brainer to add CyberPatriot to the current Coding Club to give kids access to quality education and hands-on learning opportunity."
"We see multinational companies being hacked and personal data being leaked to the black market, so hardening networks is a necessary skill in today's society," Grantham said. "However, most people don't even know what it means to 'harden' a network. The CyberPatriot approach gives students the knowledge and skills necessary -- by competition in virtual networks -- on how to harden a network and to protect the data of clients, staff and family."
The students started their training in September 2018. The club consisted of a High school and Middle school team, meet twice a week to go through Cisco training sessions, as well as online curriculum on how to harden networks. Round one was held in November. Round two was held in December. The State Round was held in January 2019.
"For the first year of competition, the Mid-Pacific team showed tremendous growth from round to round as they learned how to compete and got better at working together," Grantham said.
According to Grantham, there will be a 2019 CyberPatriot summer camp so that students can learn all about the program. The team will start up again in late July, with a goal of competing at the elementary, middle and high school levels in the fall.
Middle School Team: Alex Simpson, Cade Rodriguez & Tyrael Goo
High School Team: Justin Jukahi, Milan Salle, Shim Suhyun, Kyler Saiki, Andrew Mimura, Skyler Sybounmy & Hitoki Kidahashi
Tech Mentors: Mika Simpson, Tony Simpson & Brad Tada (alumni)
Coach: Brian Grantham
The Mid-Pacific Middle School CyberPatriot team hard at work.
The Mid-Pacific High School CyberPatriot team.