CyberPatriot Club shows promise for national competition


Ciena Christensen, Web Editor

CyberPatriot, part of the National Youth Cyber Education Program, focuses on cyber security with students taking part in simulations as newly hired information technology (IT) professionals.

Members then look for security vulnerabilities in different computer and networking operating systems and take steps to secure the computer from cyber threats.

“CyberPatriot Club offers a place for students interested in cyber security to get a feel for what it’s like to secure a machine from malicious people and programs,” former captain and varsity member Jacob Uzabel said. “Members of the club participate in competitions, using the new skills they’ve learned.”

The club has grown from one to three teams over the last three years and holds regular meetings where they practice their cyber defense skills in preparation for competitions.

Competitions consist of six hour work periods where the teams find and solve security flaws from downloaded system images, a kind of virtual computer, earning points for each security vulnerability fixed.

The club is hoping to repeat their first place title at state last year and qualify for nationals, which takes place in Baltimore, Maryland.

We hope to make it all the way to the national competition this year. Obviously this will take a lot of time and hard work, but we are eager and willing to do this,” Joel Hill said.

Students gain skills and experience that are applicable in future careers, especially with the predicted increase in the cyber security job field. Team members often specialize in specific operating systems such as Linux and Windows, giving them advantageous knowledge that can be applied after high school.

“Students are exposed to a real career with real-world scenarios,” club advisor Alex Gray said. “An in-depth understanding of the Linux OS is also a valuable skill many employers are looking for. The field of cyber security is expected to grow 26 percent in the next eight years, much faster than other careers.”

The club has allowed students to explore their interests in all aspects of computers and opened their eyes to the endless opportunities available with the skill set gained in the program.

“Because of this club, I have decided to work in computer information systems,” sophomore Joel Hill said. “I hope to be able to work for a high-end company securing computer systems, and one day I hope to work for the NSA, spying on America’s enemies and citizens.”

Even if students don’t move in this career direction, members believe the skills are still valuable in today’s world.

“I have gained a good amount of knowledge about making computers more secure, which is good knowledge to have for personal use even if I never use it in a job environment,” sophomore Nicholas Esteph said.