On Saturday March 25, 2017, middle and high school student CyberPatriot teams gathered from the greater San Antonio area to be recognized at “The Mayor’s Cyber Cup.” Assembling at the Bexar County Arenas, CyberPatriot participants received awards, accolades from top community leaders for their achievements, and money to go towards their higher education from the Alamo Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and Air Force Association (AFA). Additionally, CyberPatriot seniors were offered a half million dollars in scholarship money to attend The School of Information Technology at Hallmark University.
According to the organization’s website, CyberPatriot “was conceived by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire students towards careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.” The National Youth Cyber Competition “puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. In the rounds of competition, teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images of hardening the system while maintaining critical services.”
The day began with a college fair, social media opens, and a time of coffee and conversation with coaches, mentors, and sponsors involved with the CyberPatriot program. Following these activities, Bob Butler (Senior Vice President of AECOM and Member of the Cyber Texas Foundation Board of Advisors) opened the event and notably mentioned that San Antonio had “over 250 teams compete in CyberPatriot which is more than any city in the United States.”
After speaking appearances by Christopher Ellis (Sr. VP at Booz Allen Hamilton), Brigadier General Mitch Butikofer, Dr. Joann Fey (Asst. Superintendent, Southwest ISD), Mark Rydell of Booz Allen Hamilton, County Commissioner Kevin Wolff, Larry Hurtado (CEO of Digital Defense), Mayor Ivy R. Taylor, and Joe Sanchez (Executive Director of the Cyber Texas Foundation), awards were distributed to the top performing teams in their respective categories. The winning teams and the awards they received were:
• Blanco High School – Best Rookie High School Team
• Resnik Middle School – Best Rookie Team Middle School
• Alamo Heights High School Army JROTC – Best All-Female High School Team
• La Vernia Junior High School – Best All-Female Middle School Team
• La Vernia Junior High School – Best Middle School Team
• Roosevelt High School – Best Open Division Team
• Alamo Heights High School Army JROTC – Best All-Service Division Team Award
• The Information Technology and Security Academy – Winner of the seventh annual San Antonio Cyber Cup
All high school seniors on Cyberpatriot teams were offered $6,000 scholarships to attend the School of Information Technology at Hallmark University. Additionally, top performers from each team were invited to apply for a small number of large and full scholarships to Hallmark. Combined, Hallmark made available a half million dollars in scholarship money to CyberPatriot seniors. Hallmark President Brent Fessler, when presenting these scholarships, remarked about the “superpowers” provided to individuals, good or bad, through modern technology. “Technology is simply an amplifier, enabling one person with bad intensions to cause a lot of harm. That’s why we need many young people with character to step up and answer the call to be cyberwarriors. Our biggest ever offering of scholarships is designed to help fill that void by recruiting bright young people with character.” Hallmark’s School of Information Technology offers accelerated degree programs consisting of bachelor’s degrees in information systems and cybersecurity, and associate’s degrees in Microsoft and Cisco technologies.
Roosevelt High School team members received a $1,000 scholarship from the Alamo AFCEA Chapter, and Alamo Heights High School Army JROTC members received a $1,000 scholarship from the AFCEA and an iPad on behalf of Accenture. The team members representing The Information Technology and Security Academy (winners of the event) received a jacket, their picture with San Antonio Mayor Ivy R. Taylor, an iPad, and a $1,000 scholarship from the AFA. Advancing to the national finals held in Baltimore, Maryland will be The Information Technology and Security Academy and Holmes High School JROTC.
Remarks from Commissioner Wolff emphasized the strong ecosystem in San Antonio that is fueling the growth in the local cybersecurity industry. Mayor Ivy Taylor conveyed continued support of the cyber community and a charge for the city of San Antonio to be a model for cybersecurity itself. Closing the event, CyberTexas co-founder Joe Sanchez proclaimed to all participating CyberPatriot team members, “San Antonio is proud to have such dedicated students as yourselves entering into the cybersecurity field.”
For more information on CyberPatriot and the annual National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, visit uscyberpatriot.org
To learn more about The School of Information Technology at Hallmark University click here
For more information on the Alamo Chapter Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), visit alamoafcea.org
To learn more about the Alamo Chapter Air Force Association, visit alamoafa.org