Report by Paula Antolini, November 8, 2021, 8:47PM EDT
To Address the Massive Shortage of Cybersecurity Professionals, CyberStart America Offers a Free, Fun Game To Excite High School Students To Discover Their Talent and Enter the Field
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that Connecticut will participate in CyberStart America, an innovative, online cybersecurity talent search and competition sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and the SANS Institute. Building on the success of last year’s National Cyber Scholarship Competition and the previous Girls Go CyberStart program, CyberStart America is open to all high school students to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science. Connecticut students in grades 9 to 12 will have the chance to win prizes and recognition for their schools, as well as scholarships for advanced training for themselves.
The CyberStart America program is a series of online challenges that allow students to act as cyber protection agents, solving cybersecurity-related puzzles and explore related topics such as code breaking, programming, networking, and digital forensics. The program can be assigned as part of homework, can form the basis of an extracurricular club, or students can simply try it on their own.
Participating students and their teachers do not need knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to take part. Everything they need can be learned in the game. The program is free for schools and students, and all Connecticut students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate.
Students who do well in the program can earn access to scholarships and advanced training. Last year, 32,000 students from 4,800 schools around the country played CyberStart, and the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation awarded over $4 million in scholarships and advanced training. Last year, 407 Connecticut students participated and 20 qualified for the 2020 final round of $2 million in college scholarships.
Cybersecurity is a critical issue facing this country and field where students can find successful careers protecting personal data and the operations of organizations like hospitals, schools, corporations and government agencies. There are cybersecurity jobs in nearly every industry. Critical skills are also needed by military and intelligence agencies helping shape the future of cyber conflict and defense.
“Cybersecurity has become more and more important as our economy, workforce, and government use technology to function more efficiently,” Governor Lamont said. “We can’t continue to implement more technology solutions without improving our cybersecurity programs at the same time. I am excited for students in Connecticut to participate in this program, and for our state to continue to take advantage of opportunities that promote digital literacy and cybersecurity.”
“The Connecticut State Department of Education has been investing in the advancements of STEM and computer science in schools and classrooms with the hopes of inspiring a new, diverse wave of students to pursue careers in these fields,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker said. “CyberStart America is an excellent chance for Connecticut’s high school students to put their knowledge and passion to work. It is opportunities such as this that expand computer science pathways for Connecticut’s students so that they can serve in the high-tech, high-skill, and high-wage careers of the 21st century economy.”
“Cybersecurity is paramount to doing business in the modern world, and that means we require more young people to explore it as a career,” Connecticut Chief Information Officer Mark Raymond said. “At the state government level, we have worked hard to collaborate with state agencies to ensure that all of our residents have access to educational opportunities, and that our internal structures are built in a way that encourages this type of collaboration. I am thrilled for Connecticut to be a part of this great program again this year and look forward to the results.”
“Thank you to Governor Lamont for his leadership in training the next generation of Cyber Stars,” Alan Paller, president of the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation, said. “Connecticut is paving the way in urgently addressing the country’s significant gap in our cyber talent pipeline. We look forward to partnering with Governor Lamont’s office to recruit thousands of Connecticut students to this effort.”
To learn more about CyberStart America, visit cyberstartamerica.org. High school students should register via the website to play.