BOISE - On Friday, October 30, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced the state’s participation in CyberStart America - an innovative, online cybersecurity competition sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and the SANS Institute and supported by the Idaho National Laboratory.
“My administration is focused on advancing Idaho’s education system so our talented young students have the opportunity to pursue technical careers in Idaho and beyond,” Governor Little said. “Initiatives such as CyberStart America allow Idaho to partner with world-leading experts to develop the next generation of cybersecurity leaders and innovators.”
Idaho students in grades 9-12 are encouraged to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science and win prizes, scholarships and recognition for their themselves and their schools.
Through the free program, teams of students solve a series of online challenges and puzzles that teach skills such as code breaking, programming, networking, and digital forensics.
To encourage the participation of young women and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets, specific communities have been established in the program for these groups that offer additional support and awards.
Any student team that completes the first five challenges will be invited to participate in a national competition where millions of dollars in college scholarships will be awarded.
The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation plans to award scholarships worth a total of $2 million for use at any accredited college to the 600 highest scoring students who participate in the national competition.
There will also be additional incentives for Idaho high schools including exclusive access to cybersecurity education resources and cyber skills mastery badges.
Students and teachers do not need prior knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to participate.
The program provides all the resources and training to enable students to be successful.
In addition, through Idaho National Laboratory’s Coding Coalition, teachers or counselors who support a student team are eligible for a $1,500 stipend and access to an INL cyber guide who will help mentor student competitors.
Since 2018, more than 600 Idaho high school students have participated in the program, which was formerly known as Girls Go CyberStart.
Last year, students from five Idaho schools earned an invitation to the national competition where they competed against more than 400 other schools. At the end of the competition, three Idaho schools placed among the top 30 nationwide.
For more information on the program, or to register to play, visit cyberstartamerica.org.
The program is open for play from now until Feb. 28, 2021.