RI Cyber Foundations Competition

Feb 4, 2011 Issues: Cybersecurity

WARWICK, RI – Appearing at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, Congressman Jim Langevin today announced the launch of the Rhode Island Cyber Foundations Competition.  The competition is designed to test the computer networking skills of high school students, while introducing them to the field of information technology.  Langevin was joined by Education Commissioner Deborah Gist and representatives from the New England Institute of Technology, RI Science & Technology Advisory Council (STAC), and Tech Collective, all of whom are partners in this initiative.  The competition will be run by the Center for Internet Security, a national non-profit focused on identifying and developing talent for the cyber security workforce of the future.

“I am thrilled to announce the launch of the 2011 Rhode Island Cyber Foundations Competition!  I encourage all students with an interest in computer science, national security, or anyone with a competitive spirit to register,” said Langevin, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.  “As the field of securing our cyber networks becomes a greater component of our national and economic security strategies, we need to get our students excited about math, science, technology and cyber education.”

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.

“As educators in Rhode Island, our goal is to prepare all of our graduates for success in college, careers, and life,” said Deborah Gist, Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.   “Part of that responsibility is to prepare students for success in areas that are growing and that will help the Rhode Island economy and the future of our country. The Cyber Foundations Competition presents an excellent opportunity for our students to explore career options in the growing field of cybersecurity and to test their knowledge and skills in science and technology. I am confident that our students are ready to meet this challenge!”

“The High School Cyber Challenge is a great way to help students become enthusiastic about a career in computer science.  We must continue to provide our students with new ways to explore technology,” said Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who was unable to attend the announcement. “From students who are immersed in learning Internet technology at Hope High School, to the Providence Career & Technical Academy’s popular robotics club, my administration is committed to finding new ways to provide all our students with a world-class science and technology education.”

“Information technology is one of Rhode Island’s strongest industry sectors with jobs paying higher than average wages,” said Christine Smith, STAC executive director.  “Initiatives like the Cyber Challenge significantly elevate our capacity to introduce students to science and technology careers they may otherwise not pursue and to provide employers with the skilled workforce they need to expand and grow.  I hope students throughout the state take advantage of this great opportunity.”

“Information Technology – including cyber security – is critical to the future of our state and our nation.  The industry offers viable and sustainable career opportunities to our emerging workforce, as well as enables our global, economic, and security growth,” said JoAnn Johnson, Manager of Youth and Education Programs for Tech Collective.  “We are pleased to be a part of the launch of the Rhode Island Cyber Foundations Competition and to provide our youth with an innovative, 21st century tool for STEM engagement.”

“We are eager to have our students take part in this competition,” said Nkoli Onye, Executive Director of High Schools for Providence Public Schools. “We want our students to be able to compete at the highest levels.  To do so, they must have access to challenging and rigorous extended learning opportunities.  This initiative supports our district’s college- and career-ready mission, and has great potential to provide students with the opportunity to develop and expand the skills and knowledge that are so greatly desired in college and the workplace.”

The competition is open to all Rhode Island high school students and consists of three progressively challenging competitions where they can demonstrate their mastery of the foundations of effective cyber security: computer internals and system administration, safe web-site development, and Java and C programming.  These skills are critical to a young person looking for a new information technology job in, or outside of, the cyber security field.  Top scoring students in each of the three competitions will be recognized, as will schools with the top scoring teams. 

Student registration will take place through February 18, 2011, and participating schools will receive an access code that allows all students at the school to compete for free.  While the program is designed to run without experts needed to guide each student, a teacher-leader is encouraged.  To register, the students or school must contact the Rhode Island coordinator, Erin Flynn, at 1-800-736-7744 x3462 or eflyn AT neit DOT edu. Full information is also available through a link on the SANS Institute website (https://www.sans.org/cyber-foundations/), which informs students and schools about enrollment and provides greater details on the competition.