As the Turlock High School Naval Science instructor, Carlos Montanez wants to equip his students with real-life skills that will prepare them for their futures upon graduation. On Friday, he helped facilitate a six-hour competition, CyberPatriot, which he believes will do exactly that.
“Our goal at THS is to have engineer technology and STEM programs to provide students with real-life skills,” said Montanez. “The CyberPatriot competition gives them some of those skills.”
For the first state round, three teams composed of the school’s engineering technology and Navy Junior Reserves Offices Training Corps programs assumed the position of newly hired information technology professionals in an attempt address security vulnerabilities of a virtual computer.
According to Montanez, students were required to address a number of flaws in the security of the network, including unauthorized users, viruses, and network security. Amidst all of these problems, the competitors also had to be careful not to shut down their own site.
A huge component of the competition proved to be team members collaborating with each other in order to solve each problem, which also coincidentally was the greatest challenge met by students.
“It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s also been pretty tense working with a group of people,” said sophomore Tyler Armendariz. “We’re getting better, but we still butt heads sometimes.”
“This competition is kind of a self-assessment, but it also allows us to learn from each other,” said senior Karla Moreno. “It’s a struggle having to troubleshoot all these little problems, but we got through it together.”
According to Regional Occupational Programs Industrial Technology instructor Bob Hoskins, the competition gives students real-world experience that they wouldn’t otherwise get.
“This competition is also ideal because it allows our students to compete on a national stage without even leaving town,” added Hoskins.
THS was just one school competing in the nationwide competition that includes other schools from New York, San Diego, and Miami.
All of THS’ teams currently place in the top 50 percent nationally, and two teams have placed in the top 30 percent in their category. One team is currently ranked in the top 18 percent of all Navy ROTC teams.
“It has been going really well and each team has improved each round,” said Montanez. “Each round is more challenging than the last and no two rounds are the same.”
The next state round competition for CyberPatriot will take place on Jan. 16. After combining scores from both state round competitions, the top five teams will move on to compete in the national competition in March.