Both my kids have grown up on the computer, and various digital devices. My daughter’s experience as a digital native has grown into a passion, leading her to take multiple computer hardware classes in school. It was through one of these classes that she was introduced to the CyberPatriot program.
The CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program was established by the Air Force Association “to inspire high school students toward careers in cyber security or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.” Because of this program, my daughter is now pursuing a career in cybersecurity. I recently caught up with coach of my daughter’s team for more insight into the program.
Please introduce yourself.
Lisa Oyler, Teacher, Summit Technology Academy (STA)
When did you get into IT and what do you love about it?
I actually have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Education. In 2001 I came to work at STA and was hired to teach computer networking. Computer courses in Missouri fall under the business department, which is how I ended up in this position. The summer before I started I read several books on networking and just taught myself all of the information. Within my first year I got two IT certs from CompTIA and the next year we became a Cisco networking academy. After that I was hooked.
Tell us about the CyberPatriot program.
CyberPatriot was founded in 2009. The first two years they only hosted a few teams and they were all service teams (junior ROTC). In the third year they added the open division, which is where STA falls as a public high school. Their mission is to get students into STEM education and cybersecurity, and fill a growing need for computer science/cybersecurity professionals in private and public sector.
How long have you been involved with the program, and what made you want to join?
Five years. I received an e-mail from my director the summer before school started in 2010 with an attachment from MO DESE with information about CyberPatriot. I had my first network security class that fall and I asked the kids in that class if they wanted to create a team and they said yes.
What do you and the students do at practice rounds and competitions?
We learn about hardening different operating systems, identifying vulnerabilities such as malware and root kits, and team building. The competitions vary, but the starting point is hardening the operating system and it advances from there. In the in-person live national competition, it is a defensive red team blue team scenario and students must defend the systems keeping services running, while hardening various operating systems, as well as administering the network.
What do you love about the CyberPatriot program? Why do you think it’s important for kids to participate?
The growth over time has been phenomenal and now that we have added middle schools it’s going to expand in a big way for this next school year. The students have fun, learn a lot, and I have several companies who have hired students as interns over the years and now they specifically want CyberPatriot students.
Tell us about a particularly memorable CyberPatriot moment.
Two years ago we actually had two teams at Nationals. Kernel Panic took first in the Cisco Championship, and Sudo took 3rd in the nation. Getting to Nationals is already a win, but both teams getting on stage was great.
What future plans lay ahead for the program/your teams?
We are hosting CyberCamps this summer, and the last day of the camp they have a mock competition. Students who want to get in to CyberPatriot can attend the camp and be ready to participate in a team the next year. The program has been officially approved as an all school activity so any school can start a team and I anticipate a coach will be identified at each middle school by next Fall, and I know we will have at least 10 teams at STA alone, and possibly more.
One of my teams is heading to Nationals on April 10th. Competition awards are on Wednesday April 13. They will announce everything at the banquet on Twitter (#CP8finals).
Where can someone find more information about CyberPatriot?
Editor’s note: Good luck to Team Sudo, as well as Pleasant Lea Middle School – two Kansas City CyperPatriot teams headed to the CyberPatriot National Finals Competition next week!
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