Teams Black, Purple and Red finished first, second and third respectively in the North Carolina Platinum Level for the prestigious Air Force Association sponsored cybersecurity competition. The Black Falcon’s rookie White team debuted with a first place finish in the Gold Level. All teams need additional mentors, organizational assistance and donations to make an impact at national competition in Washington DC and kick start much needed STEM education engagement.
[4/6/2016 – Cary, North Carolina]
Students from Green Hope High School achieved a rare trifecta when all four of their teams medaled in the recent state qualifying tier of the national CyberPatriot Challenge competition:
- 1st Place Platinum Level, Black Team: Sarah Conner, Kyle Feng, Jordan Hall, Patrick Holmquist, Philipp Kratzsch, Nathan Mulder
- 2nd Place Platinum Level, Purple Team: Leah Espenhahn, Kelsey Lohr, Mary Newby, Megan Philips, Anastasiya Sklabinska, Jessica Yang
- 3rd Place Platinum Level, Red Team: Alexander Chung, Austin Edwards, Brian King, David Lynge, Daniel Molnar, Reilly Storrs
- 1st Place Gold Level, White Team: Gabby Costello, Kevin Germain, Noor Helbaoui, Matthew Jaluvka, Supriya Nittoor, Erin Perry
The AFA CyberPatriot Challenge is a national competition that tests teams of students from around the nation, which compete within the challenge parameters of being newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Challenge rounds include a variety of IT problems in need of solutions, including service tasks, maintenance routines, and cybersecurity vulnerability detection and remediation.
Tops teams from each state and region are invited to the National Finals Competition held in Washington, DC. At stake are national recognition, scholarship monies, and a chance to hobnob with leading professionals in the industry. CyberPatriot Challenge is sponsored by the Air Force Association through its CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program, an organization created to inspire high school students toward careers in cybersecurity or other STEM disciplines.
“The Black Falcons represent the next generation of cybersecurity professionals,” said team Coach Chris Gaw, a coding instructor at the school. “They are a dedicated group of kids, they are tenacious and savvy and I’m proud to be associated with them. They take these challenges seriously, and it’s not just a challenge to accept but a life lesson to accept.”
Carolina Advanced Digital mentors the Black Falcons and other local teams, including organizing support functions like their Cyber Security Student Track, held as part of the annual professional IT Hot Topics Conference. Now the company is looking to expand support for the teams from within the community, with a call for more mentors, expanded organizational involvement and donations of equipment and money.
“Mentoring these teams and working closely with students who will be future innovators and leaders in the field has become one of the highlights of our year,” said Jennifer Minella, Vice President of Engineering at Carolina Advanced Digital and a CyberPatriot mentor. “But it’s about a lot more than civic pride or academic achievement, as important as those are.”
By making a call now for local support for STEM programs and elevated engagement of students with technology curricula, Mrs. Minella and Carolina Advanced Digital are looking ahead to a looming talent deficit of 500,000+ workers in crucially important cybersecurity related positions. “Chris Gaw will be piloting the first state curriculum in cybersecurity and programming for Wake County Schools later this year, and that’s a fantastic start but just the beginning,” said Ms. Minella. “What we really need is more professional involvement, with companies working directly with students to expose them to the challenges, requirements and rewards of professional work in the industry.”
Mrs. Minella added, “We’re encouraging all of our colleagues in the North Carolina technology community to step up, volunteer and make a difference as part of a movement to address our imminent shortfall. We need resources for these students, equipment, donations, and especially mentors in a broad range of technology disciplines. These students can successfully compete at the national level, and that’s the gateway to transforming them and North Carolina into the next tech success stories.”
The Black Falcons have evolved into one of the most accomplished CyberPatriot teams locally: “Another year of competition, another year of success, another year smarter,” said Mr. Gaw. The team is looking forward to facing teams from around the country at the upcoming national CyberPatriot Challenge.
About Carolina Advanced Digital, Inc.
Carolina Advanced Digital, Inc. is a nationally-recognized leader in technology infrastructure and security solutions. Family owned and operated since 1985, the company provides exceptional engineering services and products to government, education, healthcare, and commercial clients across the United States, including Fortune 100 and 500 companies, the Department of Defense, and civilian agencies. Headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, Carolina Advanced Digital has offices and resources in North Carolina, Florida and Texas.