Langevin Works to Build Cyber Work Force

Dec 20, 2010

WARWICK, RI – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) visited three high schools today to launch the High School Cyber Challenge, which is designed to test the computer networking skills of students, while introducing them to the growing field of information technology. This fall students from the Warwick Career and Technical Center, the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center and Exeter West Greenwich High School piloted the computerized competition that will be launched in Rhode Island, Maryland and California in February 2011.

“As the field of securing our cyber networks continues to grow and becomes a greater component of our national and economic security strategies, we must develop a competent workforce that can support it,” said Langevin, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus. “By partnering with others in the cyber community we hope this challenge will grow into a national model for harnessing our young cyber talent.”

In October 2008, Jim Gosler, the first director of the Clandestine Information Technology Office at the Central Intelligence Agency, stated that “the US has no more than 1,000 people with the advanced security skills to compete in cyberspace at world class levels – we need 20,000 to 30,000.” Numerous recent reports have also cited a need for more cyber education and workforce development, including the report of the CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, co-chaired by Langevin.

“Rhode Island's high schools were among the first schools in the country to launch the High School Cyber Challenge, showing impressive leadership,” said Alan Paller, Director of Research at the SANS Institute. “These students did very well on the initial competition and we expect great results from them and other students in the coming national competition.”

“I am excited, but not surprised, to see the level of engagement and the positive response of our students to the pilot,” said Deborah Gist, RI Department of Education Commissioner. “Academic competitions such as High School Cyber Challenge stimulate student interest in career-rich fields such as cyber technology. We are proud that Rhode Island was instrumental in launching this national competition.”

“Programs like the High School Cyber Challenge, which give students the opportunity to explore science and technology through hands-on activities, makes science real and inspires our students to pursue careers in STEM disciplines,” said Christine Smith, STAC executive director. “With a trained and skilled workforce, Rhode Island and the nation will be better positioned to develop innovative solutions for protecting our growing cyber infrastructure in sectors as diverse as the Smart Grid to our water, transportation, healthcare, defense and financial services.”


“The Information Technology industry is among the fastest growing across the nation,” said Kathie Shields, executive director of Tech Collective, Rhode Island’s Information Technology and Bioscience Industry Association. “However, we still have work to do in raising awareness and engaging our youth in these critical high-tech, high-demand fields. Cross industry, academic, and government collaboration such as with the High School Cyber Challenge is a significant step in addressing those needs, and we are confident the Challenge will play a defining role in the future Homeland Security as well as STEM education.”

“This program has provided an opportunity for students to receive additional real world training in an emerging technology,” said Elizabeth Charette, technology teacher at the Warwick Area Career and Technical Center. “The students are proud of their achievements and know that the importance of securing our cyber world is not only cutting edge training but will open the door for career opportunities in their future. They have set their goals high and are looking forward to the upcoming challenge in February to prove that they are the best of the best and can compete on a national level.”

“The High School Cyber Challenge provides students with a great opportunity to learn computer and networking skills and compete with other schools in a growing field for the future,” said Steve DeRosa, technology teacher at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center. “Most importantly, it gives students a chance to build skills to gain employment in a much needed area of information technology.”

“We are excited to involve students in such a vital component of our national and economic security,” said Art Searle, technology teacher at Exeter West Greenwich High School. “We also relish the opportunity to expose students to challenging real world career opportunities. The US Cyber Challenge has filled a niche in the lives of some of our students who might not otherwise have a passion for learning or school. As the cyber challenge goes live in 2011, we hope to involve more students.”

The pilot program, using Security Foundations material from the SANS Institute, tested student skills in three important foundations of effective cyber security: computer internals and system administration, safe web-site development, and Java and C programming. These areas are among the most valuable skills that a young person can have when looking for an information technology job.