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CHIPS Articles: Cybersecurity Competition Boosts Student Interest in STEM Careers

Cybersecurity Competition Boosts Student Interest in STEM Careers
By Michelle Rehr-Matash, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Public Affairs - April 20, 2016
CHARLESTON, S.C. (NNS) -- The fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC), hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA, was held April 9-11 at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The goal of the PCDC is to energize South Carolina high school and collegiate students to focus on the development of technical skills in networking and cybersecurity.

To emphasize the importance of growing our cyber workforce, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley made an appearance Saturday to talk to the competing high school students and connect the competition activities to the real-life cyber-attacks on state agencies. "We need you to care about cybersecurity because it is real," the governor said.

Capt. Scott Heller, commanding officer of SSC Atlantic, also noted that PCDC "is a great opportunity to build on the vast cyber and military assets here in the Lowcountry and to attract the next generation of cyber professionals."

Over 300 people attended the event, including approximately 80 volunteers from SSC Atlantic, corporate partners, South Carolina National Guard and Navy Reserve.

Eight high school teams that had prequalified through Cyber Patriot, along with eight college teams, battled Red Team hackers trying to penetrate their medical supply distribution business networks. All while they had to maintain network availability and configure and protect their network against threats. Winning team members each received a $500 scholarship.

High school students from around South Carolina competed Saturday, with returning Palmetto Scholars Academy taking first place. Porter-Gaud School earned second, and third went to Stratford High School. All eight competing schools received a Raspberry PI. Max Harley of Porter-Gaud was voted Most Valuable Player (MVP), receiving a $1,000 award. Other high schools competing were Ashley Ridge, Blythewood, Home School Network, South Aiken and Wando.

One theme resonating across the teams was the appreciation of the challenge. Anderson Reese from Home School Network said, "It was exhilarating to have a live environment; it is different from anything else we've experienced."

Clemson University took first place, University of South Carolina second and The Citadel third in Sunday's collegiate competition. Clemson's MacKenzie Binns earned an MVP receiving $1,000. Charleston Southern University, College of Charleston, ECPI University, South Carolina State University, Trident Technical College also competed in the event.

"We loved the experience and environment," said Meagin Arrocha of Charleston Southern University. "We were always learning. We want to give back and help in the competition next year."

A "Pro Day" training challenge for government and industry professional teams was held Monday. Government teams were from Cyber National Mission Force, Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command, North Carolina National Guard and the South Carolina National Guard. Industry teams were from CSRA Inc., Scientific Research Corporation, SCANA Energy, and a joint team from Adapt Forward LLC, CACI International.

In keeping with the STEM goals of PCDC, two collegiate students were embedded within each pro team. CSRA invited previous high school MVP Amanda Prevatt, now a Stall High senior, to join their team for the second year in a row. Pro Day is considered an opportunity for workforce development, training, recruiting and networking.

To add emphasis on cyber, a Cyber Forensics Challenge was held Saturday. Participants solved as many forensics scenarios as possible earning points. Hourly leaders received prizes and overall winner, Lance Alt, received a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The South Carolina National Guard presented several cybersecurity lectures, including Cyber Legal Policies, Welcome to Cyber, and open-source cyber tools.

For more news from Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/spawar/.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 9, 2016) A team of students from South Aiken High School protects their network from Red Team hackers during the fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC), held at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C. The competition, which helps to attract and grow our future cyber workforce, was hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA.  U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger
CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 9, 2016) A team of students from South Aiken High School protects their network from Red Team hackers during the fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC), held at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C. The competition, which helps to attract and grow our future cyber workforce, was hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger

CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 9, 2016) A team from Stratford High School in Goose Creek protects their network from Red Team hackers during the fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C. The competition, which helps to attract and grow our future cyber workforce, was hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger
CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 9, 2016) A team from Stratford High School in Goose Creek protects their network from Red Team hackers during the fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC) at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C. The competition, which helps to attract and grow our future cyber workforce, was hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger

CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 9, 2016) Capt. Scott Heller, Commanding Officer of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic addresses competitors and attendees at the fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC), held at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C. The competition, which helps to attract and grow our future cyber workforce, was hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA.  U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger
CHARLESTON, S.C. (April 9, 2016) Capt. Scott Heller, Commanding Officer of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic addresses competitors and attendees at the fourth annual Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition (PCDC), held at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C. The competition, which helps to attract and grow our future cyber workforce, was hosted by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SSC) Atlantic in collaboration with the South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter of AFCEA. U.S. Navy photo by Joe Bullinger
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