Science and Technology News

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Montana youth lead way building cyber security skills

by 2nd Lt. Annabel Monroe
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

1/20/2015 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.  -- Students and faculty from Charles M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana, along with members of the Air Force Association and volunteers from Malmstrom Air Force Base, have combined forces to compete in CyberPatriot, Montana's first national youth cyber education program.

In an effort to increase adolescent focus in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, students compete in the field of cyber security and network defense while being taught and mentored by experts in the field.

Top performing teams across the nation will be invited to attend an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C., for the National Finals Competition. The regional competition was held Jan. 16, 2015, for Montana's first and only CyberPatriot team.

"The program addresses very real national security concerns in an ever-evolving industry and introduces students to career opportunities in the cyber security field," said Senior Master Sgt. David Lohouse, 341st Communications Squadron superintendent.

Each student participates in training, a practice exercise once a week and meets with a mentor at least once a month.

"(I volunteered) because it's challenging, fun and an opportunity to teach the future 'us,'" said Airman 1st Class Daniel Rome, 341st CS client system technician. "We might as well start now."

"CyberPatriot teaches kids about cyber security and provides a glimpse of the things we face in the Air Force every day," said Senior Airman Eric Garrison, 341st CS client system technician. "Additionally, it's an opportunity to pass on knowledge that can broaden each of these students' opportunities."

"We also have the opportunity to improve our knowledge base and learn new computing policies," added Senior Airman Austin Beaty, a visual imagery and intrusion detection systems specialist from the 341st CS.

"It's a fun group of people to be around. We are proud of what we do and proud of creating safer computers in general," said Joe Grasseschi, an 11th-grade student at CMR High School.

Katie Peppers, a senior at CMR High School who is looking into some of the best technical universities on the East Coast, looks forward to her future and is grateful for the things being a CyberPatriot taught her.

"I love being able to help others with computer issues and appreciate the problem solving skills I have learned," said Peppers.

In the end, that's exactly what programs like these are all about.

"We love providing opportunities that students might not otherwise have in the classroom," explained Jamie Williams, a librarian at CMR and the CyberPatriot team coach.

In a combined effort to further science, technology, engineering and mathematics knowledge in schools, organizations like CyberPatriot help build America's national security future as well as positive and productive youth.

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