Student Competitions

Missouri District Designated as CyberPatriot Center of Excellence

Just days after becoming a CyberPatriot Center of Excellence, two student teams from Lee's Summit R-7 School District in Missouri also claimed top awards at a CyberPatriot national competition. The CyberPatriot is the name of a cyber education program developed and run by the Air Force Association (AFA). Its goal is to woo students into STEM education and careers.

Lee's Summit participation in the program started in 2012, when the district began competing in cyber competitions, which initially take place online on specific weekends throughout the school year. During those contests students find and fix vulnerabilities on a virtual machine image, such as putting strong passwords in place, doing network packet tracing and other cyber security-related activities. At the national level teams meet in person and are placed in a scenario where they have to secure their network, keep critical services up and running and address administrative or policy changes to the network. That competition also offers challenges specific to Cisco, Leidos and Facebook. All team expenses to the national contest are paid by the CyberPatriot national program and the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

The centers of excellence designation is given to districts, colleges and cities that put a consistent effort into emphasizing cybersecurity and developing workforce initiatives. Other K-12-specific recipients of this title include the Los Angeles Unified School District, Spokane Public Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools and Huntsville City Schools.

The Lee's Summit program is led by Lisa Oyler, a teacher at Summit Technology Academy, one of the district's high schools. Oyler's school is a primary collaborator with the University of Central Missouri and the Metropolitan Community College to run the Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) program, which allows STEM-focused students to earn college credit while they finish high school. Soon that program will add a cybersecurity degree program that includes summer internships with local companies in the Kansas City area.

CyberPatriot is a formal club within the district; middle schools and high schools can start and run their own CyberPatriot teams. At the middle school level, the district has signed on for an AFA CyberCamp to recruit incoming students.

During the recent CyberPatriot National Competition, a six-student team from Summit Tech captured first place in an open division contest with 1638 teams. A team from Pleasant Lea Middle School, also in the district, took second place in the middle-school division, competing against 460 teams. This was Summit Technology Academy's fourth straight year to qualify for the national CyberPatriot finals and the first year for the school district's middle school teams to compete.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.