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Cyberpatriot program thrives in JROTC

Caroline Kesting, Staff Writer

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Cyberpatriot is a National Youth Cyber Education Program designed by the Air Force Association (AFA). The program allows students to explore careers in cybersecurity, technology, engineering, mathematics and other sciences that are critical for our nation’s increasing technological development. Different high schools and middle schools all around the country compete against each other in The National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

Vrisha Jagdish, junior, is one of the captains of the two teams in the Cyberpatriot program that is attached to the Air Force Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) at Lafayette.

“I run all of the ubuntu images, where you can only access everything through the terminal which requires you to type in a code. There are different people that do windows on their computers, which are much easier to navigate because there is a search bar and it doesn’t require a terminal to access things. I make sure that everyone comes to all the meetings and the competitions, everyone is held accountable for,” Jagdish said. “I make sure that people get the notes, and if they have any questions, they tend to come to me and ask.”

Jagdish explains the concept of the Cyber Education program and what the students are tasked with.

“There are two different teams that are split up randomly. Basically, you are given six hours to find as many vulnerabilities in the virtual images they give to you. They give you an unsafe computer and you have to do a bunch of things to make it safe again,” Jagdish said.

Initially, Jagdish had no interest in computers, but instead wanted to become more involved in the ROTC program.

“I just wanted to try something new, I wanted to branch out a little bit and see if I was interested in this field, and honestly, I fell in love with the program,” Jagdish said. “I am glad I made that decision and I really think that other people should branch out and try different things that they don’t know if they like or not and it led me to something so great.”

After joining and becoming a leader within the program, Jagdish has discovered a possible future career opportunity.

“[Cyberpatriot] is a really good career opportunity and a step into the real world to see how things run. I think this is a new perspective into how education should be taught. This is a good opportunity for learning something specific and also learning those skills that you need and not just how to hack a computer,” Jagdish said.

Senior Ryan Luedloff is the captain of the Window’s team in the Cyberpatriot Program and feels that the competitions allow for a great opportunity to grow closer with his teammates.

“I’d say the best part of CyberPatriot are the competitions themselves. When we start competing we have six hours to find as many vulnerabilities as possible. That’s a long time to sit and stare at a computer screen,” Luedloff said. “We come up with ways to entertain each other that I think in the end [Cyberpatriot] is a bonding experience.”

Not only do the competitions require teamwork, they require much time and energy in order to be successful.

“We try to meet once a week with our ‘mentors’ as a group, but much of the preparation is on our own… Competition’s themselves are about once a month on the weekend. We normally meet at someone’s house or school to do the actual six hour competition,” Luedloff said. “We gather around a large table with our notes and laptops and try to make the computer as safe as possible. Food, music, running down the street every hour and frustration are always part of the competition.”

The Cyberpatriot team has performed well in previous years at Lafayette.

“Our team has done pretty well in the past. This year due to the snow days and being unable to compete we didn’t make it past the state round. The closest I’ve been to the national competition was my sophomore year when we made it to the regional competition in the platinum category. Last year I believe we we made it to state round in the gold category,” Luedloff said.

About the Writer
Caroline Kesting, Staff Writer

Caroline is a junior, and this is her first year on staff. She loves to write and dance, and she enjoys psychology and helping people. Caroline can be contacted at ckesting026@rsdmo.org

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Cyberpatriot program thrives in JROTC