Hersey students named first in their division at state level cybersecurity competition


A team of students from John Hersey High School recently placed first in their division at the state level competition of CyberPatriot, the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

Students in the competition are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within computer networking systems while maintaining critical services during a six-hour period.

Established by the Air Force Association, the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program was created to excite, educate, and motivate students toward careers in cyber security and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to the nation’s future.

A study from Osterman Research and Trustwave in January 2017 found more than half of businesses say finding and recruiting talented IT security staff is a significant or major challenge, while 35 percent say retaining cybersecurity talent remains a problem.

Based on the results of two preliminary rounds, CyberPatriot high school teams were categorized within their divisions as Platinum, Gold, or Silver Tier teams, with Platinum Tier teams representing the highest scoring teams.

Led by Tom Polak, the team of five Hersey students – Luke Allen, Yousef Awmrin, John Labuda, Patrick Piatek and Mark Thomas – excelled in the CyberPatriot IX State Round held in January, demonstrating teamwork, critical thinking skills and technical knowledge key to a successful career in cybersecurity.

The team’s performance earned the state’s First Place Gold Tier Award and was named the third best team in Illinois, allowing them to advance to the regional competition. At the regional round in February, the team earned the Eighth Place Gold Tier Award in the Midwest.

“The CyberPatriot competition allowed students to apply the knowledge they gained preparing for their CompTIA certifications,” said Polak. “The ability to assess and secure Microsoft Windows, Windows Server and Linux images will provide experiences that will make them employable.”  

“The CyberPatriot competition will become part of the Cisco Networking and Advanced Networking & Security courses in the coming school year,” Polak said.

More information is available at www.uscyberpatriot.org.

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