ATLANTA – Georgia high school students will participate in CyberStart America, an innovative, online cybersecurity talent search and competition sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and the SANS Institute, state officials announced.
The competition is open to all high school students to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science, with participants able to win scholarships and prizes and recognition for their schools. A partnership between the University of North Georgia, the Georgia Cyber Center at Augusta University, Georgia Tech Research Institute and the Georgia Department of Education created “CyberStart America in Georgia” to promote CyberStart within the state and provide $100,000 in cash prizes to Georgia students, teachers and schools.
“As the need for cybersecurity personnel continues to grow for American businesses, our state is uniquely positioned to provide the work force that will meet this need,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in a news release. “Thank you to the University of North Georgia, Georgia Cyber Center at Augusta University, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Georgia Department of Education for working to bring this project to fruition. CyberStart America will offer our students the opportunity to find their place in a fast-growing cybersecurity industry.”
To address the significant shortage of cybersecurity professionals, CyberStart America offers a free, entertaining opportunity to excite high school students about the field. Registration is open until the game ends on April 27. As of February, Georgia is second in the nation for registrations with more than 4,600 students from more than 200 schools participating.
Thank you to Gov. Kemp for his leadership in training the next generation of Cyber Stars,” Michele Guel, president of the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation, said. “Georgia is paving the way in urgently addressing the country’s significant gap in our cyber talent pipeline. We look forward to partnering with the governor’s office to recruit thousands of Georgia’s students to this effort.”
Cybersecurity threats from all around the world are a critical issue for the state and country. Those interested in the field can find successful careers protecting personal data and the operations of organizations like hospitals, schools, corporations, and government agencies, with cybersecurity jobs in nearly every industry. Critical skills also are needed by military and intelligence agencies, helping to shape the future of cyber conflict and defense. Currently, there is a need for tens of thousands of additional cybersecurity professionals, requiring a robust cybersecurity work force pipeline.
The CyberStart America program is a series of online challenges that allows students to act as cyber protection agents, solving cybersecurity-related puzzles and exploring related topics such as code breaking, programming, networking and digital forensics. Participating students and their teachers do not need prior knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to take part. The program is free for participants, and all Georgia students in grades 9-12 are invited.
Students who do well in the program can earn access to scholarships and advanced training. Last year, 32,000 students from 4,800 schools around the country participated, including 400 Georgia students, and NCSF awarded more than $4 million in scholarships and advanced training, with 15 Georgians taking home top honors and scholarships.
This year, the CyberStart America in Georgia partners teamed up to raise $100,000 from the private sector to fund district, school, and student incentives for the game. The district level prizes were determined based on total student registrations as of Dec. 31, 2021.
The 10 CyberStart Districts of Distinction are:
1. Buford City School District
2. Cherokee County School District
3. Columbia County School District
4. Dalton City School District
5. Forsyth County Schools
6. Fulton County School System
7. Gwinnett County Public Schools
8. Muscogee County School District
9. Peach County School District
10. Valdosta City School District
One high school in each of the 10 Districts will be recognized as a Cyber Opportunity School and will receive $5,000 to use toward cyber programs.
For local school districts, teachers, or students within the state of Georgia, more information on CyberStart America in Georgia and the available prizes can be found at https://ung.edu/cyber-operations/cyberstart-georgia.php
To learn more about CyberStart America, visit cyberstartamerica.org. High school students should register via this website to play for free.