Summit Lakes Middle School students advance as finalist in CyberPatriot national championship

// Posted By Janie Rohlfing

A team of students from Summit Lakes Middle School is headed to Baltimore, Md., as a finalist in the national championship round of CyberPatriot IX—the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. Team Error 37 from Summit Lakes consists of Tommy Cuezze,  Jonah Ludiker and Mason Sipe, eighth-graders, and Connor Bichsel, Keenan Curp, and Ethan McFarland, seventh-graders.

Since 2009, CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition has challenged teams of two to six students to harden simulated computer systems and resolve real-life cybersecurity situations faced by industry professionals. The competition provides students hands-on experience securing computer networks while exciting, educating and motivating them toward careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Led by coach Teri Curp, the Summit Lakes Middle School national finalist team is one of just three teams to advance from a pool of roughly 600 middle school division teams. The CyberPatriot competition consists of two high school divisions, with public, private, and home schools competing in the open division and Junior ROTC units, Naval Sea Cadet Corps, and Civil Air Patrol squadrons competing in the all-service division, as well as a middle school division.

In all, more than 4,400 teams registered to participate in CyberPatriot IX, marking 30 percent growth to the competition field from last season. Registered teams represented all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, U.S. Department of Defense Dependent Schools in both Europe and the Pacific, and other teams abroad.

Following three preliminary rounds in November, December and January, only the top 50 percent of middle school teams advanced to the semifinals. From that round, only three teams were chosen for the national finals. The Summit Lakes Middle School team demonstrated the teamwork, critical thinking skills and technical knowledge necessary to distinguish itself from other middle school teams and win its coveted national finalist spot.

In April, the SLMS team will travel all-expenses-paid to the CyberPatriot IX National Finals Competition at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore, Md. During the competition’s only in-person round, teams will compete to defend virtual networks and mobile devices from a professional aggressor team. The finalists will also face off in three additional competition components: the Facebook Challenge, the Cisco Networking Challenge and the Leidos Digital Forensics Challenge. These extra challenges will expose competitors to new elements and skillsets of the many career opportunities available to them.

CyberPatriot greatly benefits from the support and technical expertise of the Northrop Grumman Foundation and the competition’s founding partner – CIAS at the University of Texas-San Antonio. AT&T Federal and the AT&T Foundation, Cisco, Microsoft, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Secretary of Defense; Cyber Gold sponsors Facebook, Riverside Research, Splunk and Symantec; and Cyber Silver sponsors the Air Force Reserve, American Military University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Leidos and University of Maryland University College.

For more information about CyberPatriot, go to www.uscyberpatriot.org.

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