(INDIANAPOLIS) – Three Indiana teams placed in the Top 35 nationally in the 2019 Girls Go CyberStart challenge, a cybersecurity skills-based competition designed to encourage girls to become critical thinkers and explore a potential career in the growing field of cybersecurity.
Indiana’s top three teams included:
Noblesville High School, advised by Lisa Heid, finished 19th nationally
“WCC Cyber Warriors” from Walker Career Center/Warren Central High School, advised by Joshua Law, finished 23rd nationally
“Whoosh Force” from North Wood High School, advised by Pete Morey, finished 31st nationally
Park Tudor High School also placed among the Top 50 in the national competition.
Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch recognized the three Indiana teams Wednesday at the Cybertech Midwest Conference in Indianapolis.
“It’s exciting to see young women taking an interest in the cybersecurity field, a field mainly dominated my men,” Crouch said. “Organizations like SANS Institute and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security that are supporting efforts to skill up young females are such vital assets to our state and its workforce. The top three teams in Indiana have much to be proud of, and all teams have a bright future in front of them.”
The event, organized by the SANS Institute, challenged the young women to solve cybersecurity-related puzzles and tested them on topics such as cryptography, programming and digital forensics. Each team comprised of four students and an advisor.
“I am delighted by my team’s success in the Girls Go CyberStart competition,” said Noblesville High School advisor Lisa Heid. “The young ladies had a blast working together using research, trial-and-error and creativity to solve the hands-on, engaging challenges. It was an awesome experience.”
With 656 young women (grades 9-12) competing this year, an increase of more than 250 from the previous year, Indiana ranked 6th among the 27 states competing this year. Last year, only 16 states competed. The program also expanded this year to include college-aged students. Both competitions included cash awards for the top three teams in each state.
“I am so excited for these girls,” said WCC Cyber Warriors advisor Joshua Law. “They have worked so hard, and to see that work recognized is truly a special reward. I would highly recommend this program to any and all computer science teachers across Indiana.”
Just 11 percent of cybersecurity professionals working today are women, highlighting a serious gap in workforce development. Girls Go CyberStart seeks to spark that interest with the knowledge and excitement the field can offer them.
“I am extremely proud of our students and what they were able to accomplish,” said Whoosh Force advisor Pete Morey. “Girls Go CyberStart is a great opportunity for our students to push themselves and compete to build on what they are learning in the classroom.”
Since 2010, cyber jobs have increased by more than 75 percent, outpacing the talent pool and resulting in more than 1 million unfilled cyber positions nationwide. In Indiana, an estimated 2,300 jobs are unfilled, according to the Cyberseek jobs tool.
For more information about Girls Go CyberStart, visit their website.