NEW JERSEY -- Three students from Scotch Plains-Fanwood -- along with others from Watchung, Edison, and Maplewood -- successfully completed the CyberPatriot (Cyber Defense) competition.
Anushka Kumar, of Watchung, is a sophomore at Watchung Hills Regional High School.
The students were comprised of two teams: 1) high school students and 2) middle school students. The high school team earned second place in the State Competition for the All Service Division composed of 21 teams from JROTC Army, JROTC Marines, JROTC Navy, JROTC Air Force, Civil Air Patrol, and Naval Sea Cadets Corp. The middle school team earned the rights to pass to the National Semifinals. Both teams are members of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).
The National CyberPatriot Competition was initiated by the Air Force Association in order to attract K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future. The competition consists of a scenario where teams are placed in the position of newly hired IT professionals and tasked with managing a network and/ or computer operating system. In each round, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.
In addition, they learn teamwork, critical thinking skills, and technical knowledge which are key to a successful career in cybersecurity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate of growth for jobs in information security is projected at 37% from 2012-22 -- much faster than the average for all other occupations.
Nationwide 5,584 teams enrolled for the CyberPatriot Competition. The teams are divided into three divisions:
- Open Division for public, private, and homeschool teams (high school Students)
- All Service Division for JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, and Naval Sea Cadet Corps teams (high school students)
- Middle school division
The competition season ran from October 2017 to February 2018 with a total of 5 rounds of 6 hours each. Both teams entered in the competition without any knowledge about Cyber Security and came out knowing the basics on how to secure computers and networks from Cyber-Threats.
The two local teams are part of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an after school youth program. They participate in weekly meetings where they learn about Aerospace (orientation flights in powered planes and gliders, STEM concepts with hands-on activities), Military structure (customs, courtesies, discipline, drills, physical training, and leadership), and participate in community service. CAP also offers different types of summer camps from STEM to leadership, to glider flights.
CAP is a non-profit corporation that serves as the official Auxiliary of the US Air Force civilian non-combatant. For more information about the after school Civil Air Patrol (CAP) youth cadet program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit CAP’s webpage.
The CAP Cyber team in the picture: (l to r): Cadet Rohit Bellam and Cadet Krisnasaketh Kosaraju (Edison), Cadet Sophia Cosma (Maplewood), Cadet Anushka Kumar (Watchung); Cadet Sagar Patil (Edison), Cadet Veronica Vergara (Scotch Plains), Cadet Paul Koizumi (Fanwood), and missing in the picture, Cadet Ethan Morrobel (Scotch Plains).