Summit Lakes Middle School students capture championship in CyberPatriot nationals

// Posted By Janie Rohlfing

A team of students from Summit Lakes Middle School recently returned from Baltimore, Md., after earning the championship trophy in CyberPatriot IX—the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, held April 3-5. The winning team is called Team Error 37 and includes 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.

Team coach is Teri Curp, and Kevin Shulmeister serves as technical coach. The Summit Lakes Middle School team was one of just three advancing 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.

During April, the SLMS team traveled 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 competed to defend virtual networks and mobile devices from a professional aggressor team. The middle school finalists faced off in three additional competition components: the Network Security Challenge and the Cisco Networking Challenge.  The Cisco Networking Challenge  exposed competitors to new elements and skillsets of the many career opportunities available to them.

The SLMS students are being featured in an April issue of Time magazine for Kids that focuses on cybersecurity. One of the students on the team participated in an interview on this topic for the magazine.

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.

Pictured with CyberPatriot officials are (from left) Kevin Schulmeister (technical coach), Ethan McFarland, Tommy Cuezze, Connor Bichsel, Keenan Curp, Jonah Ludiker, Mason Sipe, and Teri Curp (team coach).

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