Cyberpatriots compete at state competition

By Gisselle Washington | Staff Writer |

This story was originally published in the Big Stick Dec. 19 edition. 

Ten Cyberpatriot teams are competing at the state level this week. Tasked with protecting computers from unauthorized access ​and exploitation, cyber security takes on the greatest digital attacks from identity theft to company data breaches. At the high school level, the CyberPatriot club competes in teams at cyber defense competitions while teaching these protection skills with the intent of students going into the field.

Senior Carter Cook watches as Cyberpatriot teammates seniors Price Hiller, Zack Bernstein, Truitt Millican, and Hannah Hughes code at a recent competition. Photo by Carmen Centeno

 The CyberPatriot club has been active for the past five years, meeting every Wednesday and Thursday afternoon learning skills such as programming to compete in the competitions.

“I enjoy competing with my team and getting the thrill that comes when you make points in a competition,” president Hannah Hughes said. “The last round was pretty intense. The freshmen were getting into it for the first time and it was neat to kind of watch them actually use what we were teaching them in class like ‘oh hey this is useful what we’ve been teaching you.’”

 The 10 teams competed in the first round Nov. 2-3 and the second round Dec. 7-8.  The scores are averaged together and sponsor Josh Beck said most placed in the top 30 percent, which will advance them to the platinum tier.

 “We’ve been successful,” Beck said. “It’s very difficult. One of the things we’re always doing is we’re always thinking about what can we do to be more successful at competition because it is so difficult.”

 San Antonio has been a leader in cyber security dating back to the 1980s with the largest cluster of military personal and national intelligence personnel. Currently it’s number two in data centers in the world (according to San Antonio Economic development foundation).

 “We have a lot of students that go off after high school and they start as entry level cyber security analysts,” Beck said. “We have students that get their top secret clearance because of it. So it really has a direct pipeline to industry. And we have a lot of relationships with employers in the city where students after, based on their success in cyberpatriots, they are eligible for internships.”