RUHS CyberPatriot Team wins State, Eyes National Championships

Photo of CyberPatriot Team

CyberPatriots (left to right): Coach David Herring, Andrew Connoy (UHS ’17), Colton Payne (UHS ’18), Duncan Simpson (RHS ’17), DJ Echeveste (UHS ’17), Clay Downs (UHS ’17), Toby Kochenderfer (UHS ’17).

The story of our school’s CyberPatriot team is a typical UHS story: students decide at the last-minute to undertake a huge endeavor without any background knowledge and end up being wildly successful.

Last November, after hearing about the competition from Cyrus Afarin (’08), the team of DJ Echeveste (’17), Duncan Simpson (RHS ’17), Clay Downs (’17), Toby Kochenderfer (’17),  Andrew Connoy (’17), and alternate Colton Payne (’18), and their coach Mr. David Herring signed up for the CyberPatriot’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

Sponsored by the Air Force Association and the Northrop Grumman Foundation, this national competition includes over 1,600 teams. During the competition, teams act as IT professionals who are tasked with securing the computers of a small business. Working on virtual computer images for various operating systems, the students are “the opposite of hackers” and work as a team to repair “backdoors” and apply new policies. In the early rounds of the competition, teams from across the country compete virtually, with their scores from each round determining their placement in the later rounds.

Most of the RUHS team had little experience in cybersecurity before this program began and were just hoping to learn more about the subject area and have fun while doing so. Their last-minute registration meant they even missed the practice rounds! That has made this team’s rapid rise in the competition even more impressive. In January, the RUHS CyberPatriot team finished first in Arizona during the during the State Championship round.

On February 5, the team will compete in the Regional Championship round with hopes of earning a spot at the National Championships. If they succeed, they will win an all-expense paid trip to Baltimore to compete in person against the top teams in the country. The winners of the national competition receive scholarships, job offers, and mentorship opportunities.

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