CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program. There are three main programs within CyberPatriot: the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, AFA CyberCamps and the Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative. CyberPatriot was conceived by the Air Force Association (AFA) to inspire students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future.
At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The 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 and hardening the system while maintaining critical services. Teams compete for the top placement within their state and region, and the top teams in the nation earn all-expenses paid trips to Baltimore, MD for the National Finals Competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money.
This year two teams of high school students from the local Civil Air Patrol, sponsored by the NASA Aerospace Academy at Fresno State and mentored by ERC’s own John Escalera, competed in the “All Services Division” which includes teams from Air Force JROTC, Army JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, Marine Corps JROTC, Naval Sea Cadet Corps, and Navy JROTC.
During the first round of competition our teams scored in the top 15% of our division. During the increasingly more difficult second round our teams scores in the top 10% and 20% respectively. When filtering for teams in California only our teams scored 3rd and 4th place in the state. Scores from the first two rounds of competition were combined to determine admission to the state round.
Each of our team's combined scores were high enough to merit them an invitation to participate in the (exponentially more difficult) state round. Though we didn’t move on the regional or national rounds we are exteremely proud of our students and their accomplishment. Our valley-grown talent dedicated their Saturdays, worked their way through Mr. Escalera’s rigorous security scenarios, and earned the right to call themselves Cyber Patriots.