As companies and governments are hard-pressed to find cyber talent, the cavalry may be on the way: the ranks of high-school and middle-school-aged students competing in the nation’s premiere youth cybersecurity contest have more than doubled in two years.
More than 3,300 teams representing all 50 states and several US territories and military bases abroad registered for the 2015-2016 CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, the Air Force Association recently announced. (The Northrop Grumman Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program).
That’s up 55 percent from the year prior and more than double the number of teams from the 2013-2014 contest.
"Since our commitment to serve as CyberPatriot's presenting sponsor in 2010, this initiative has taken-off, thanks to the incredible stewardship of our partner, the Air Force Association," said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation. "CyberPatriot is truly one of the most relevant and impactful STEM programs of our age. We are thrilled to advance this global workforce initiative, which is engaging our youth to pursue a career in this field and become the much-needed cyber leaders of tomorrow. We couldn't be more proud of the program's success, its focus on diversity, and its impact on our economic and national security."
Created by the AFA, CyberPatriot inspires youth toward careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Beginning with the contest’s first round this month, CyberPatriot VIII teams will compete from their home locations in a series of online qualifying rounds that challenge them to find and fix security vulnerabilities in a variety of simulated networks.
Top teams from these online challenges will travel all-expenses-paid to Baltimore, Md., for the CyberPatriot VIII National Finals Competition April 10-14, 2016. There, finalists will have the opportunity to compete for national honors and scholarships, as well as the opportunity to network with industry sponsors.
"Leaders of industry and government, worldwide, are in dire need of qualified cyber defenders," said Diane Miller, director of CyberPatriot programs at Northrop Grumman. "CyberPatriot is answering that call. The program is developing a workforce of cybersecurity professionals who are rooted in strong ethical practices, technically sharp, and trained in leadership, teamwork, and communications skills. The impact CyberPatriot is making on students pursuing this career field is evident, so we are pleased to be on the front lines building the workforce of tomorrow."
These contests take on a global flavor given the participation of teams from Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, and Department of Defense Dependent schools in Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and South Korea.
Indeed, competitions developing cyber talent are not limited to the US. Earlier this year, Northrop Grumman partnered with Cyber Security Challenge U.K. to launch the CyberCenturion cyber defense competition. Now in its second year, CyberCenturion will hold its national finals competition at the National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park, U.K. in April 2016.
In June, a partnership with King Saud University in Saudi Arabia led to the first CyberArabia competition.
Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are committed to supporting cybersecurity education, training and technology. In addition to CyberPatriot, the foundation supports the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Cyber Scholars program. The corporation supports the University of Maryland Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students program, leads the Cybersecurity Research Consortium, is partnered with bwTech@UMBC on the Cync incubator program, and operates its own Cyber Academy. For more about Northrop Grumman in cybersecurity, go to www.northropgrumman.com/cyber. For more about CyberPatriot, go to www.uscyberpatriot.org.
The Northrop Grumman Foundation supports diverse and sustainable programs for students and teachers. These programs create innovative education experiences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. For more information please visit www.northropgrumman.com/foundation.