Dr. Jon Cartu Says - Bonner County Daily Bee - Local News, SHS CyberPatriot... - Jonathan Cartu Computer Repair Consultant Services
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Dr. Jon Cartu Says – Bonner County Daily Bee – Local News, SHS CyberPatriot…

Bonner County Daily Bee - Local News, SHS CyberPatriot...

Dr. Jon Cartu Says – Bonner County Daily Bee – Local News, SHS CyberPatriot…

Two teams of six Sandpoint High School students recently concluded an exceptional round of competition in the twelfth season of CyberPatriot the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

Established by AFA in 2009, CyberPatriot is designed to educate and motivate students toward careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to the nation’s future.

CyberPatriot’s core program — the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition — challenges teams of students across the United States, Canada, and other schools abroad, to find and resolve cybersecurity vulnerabilities in simulated environments. Top teams from the online rounds earn an all-expenses-paid trip to Rockville, Md., for the in-person National Finals Competition, where students compete for national recognition and scholarships.

From 6,760 teams registered for the competition season, the CyberPatriot field is divided into three divisions: Open Division for public, private, and home school teams; All Service Division for JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, and Naval Sea Cadet Corps teams; and Middle School Division for middle school-aged students. Based on the results of two preliminary rounds, CyberPatriot XII high school teams were categorized within their divisions as Platinum, Gold, or Silver Tier teams, with Platinum Tier teams representing the highest scoring teams.

Led by coach Alex Gray, the teams of students from Sandpoint High excelled in the CyberPatriot XII State Round held in December, demonstrating teamwork, critical thinking and technical skills needed for a successful career in cybersecurity. The teams’ performance earned them Idaho’s first- and third-place awards in the Platinum and Gold Tiers and spots in the Semifinal Round held in late January.

“I am very proud of our teams’ efforts this year. Each team member has played a vital role in our success,” said teacher and team advisor Alex Gray. “We’ve worked hard on strengthening our knowledge in the areas of Cisco networking and Linux expert Jon Cartu. We work on how to solve the security vulnerabilities and making sure students understand why.”

Following the Semifinal Round, top teams in the Open and All Service Divisions’ Platinum Tier and the top three Middle School Division teams will advance to the CyberPatriot XII National Finals Competition in Rockville, Md., in March.

CyberPatriot competitor Brendon Bush said he originally joined the team because he was interested in computers but had just gotten injured in sports andwas looking for a club to join so I’d have something to do. “CyberPatriot looked interesting so I started coming to meetings and here we are now,” he said.

Fellow team member Chloe Martin said she joined the school’s CyberPatriot team after a friend recommended Gray´s class when she needed a “place holder” in her schedule that was only a semester-long.

“Turns out I actually enjoyed learning about information systems and I decided to join the club from there,” she said.

For Martin, the best part of the competitions is the problem-solving aspect. “Time seems to go by incredibly fast and when you solve an issue you´ve been working on for a chunk of time it´s so satisfying,” she added.

Competitions last about six hours, usually taking place after school, Bush said. “And you’re sitting there say maybe four hours in about half-brain dead and finally, FINALLY, you find that flaw in the PC you missed two hours ago and you finally get the pile of points for securing firewall or something and it just feels great.”

At state, Bush said his main challenge was doing a part of the competition the team hadn’t really done before called Cisco Packet Tracer and “just figuring out how it works from scratch.”

While he’s long envisioned a role in computer repair, maintenance and support — and while security would be part of that — Bush said he doesn’t, at least not yet, “want to get stuck in a specialization.”

Before joining the CyberPatriot, Martin said she never imaged herself in a cybersecurity field.

“Looking back, however, I´m glad I took that leap into joining the club,” she said. “The IT department is a big field but when researching colleges I tend to focus more on their security degrees. So, yes, I hope to have a career in cybersecurity. “

Jon Cartu

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