Cyber Lancers place at the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition


Rachel Brown

Members of ROTC perform the flag ceremony on September 11, 2020. Multiple ROTC members are also a part the Cyber Lancers teams.

Caroline Black, Staff Reporter

Lafayette’s Cyber Lancers teams both placed at the state level within their own tiers at the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. Cyber Lancers 2 took third in the state in the Gold tier. Cyber Lancers took second place in the Silver tier. 

Cyber Lancers and Cyber Lancers 2 are CyberPatriot teams made up of two to six students that are involved in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) or in Civil Air Patrol Units who train and practice to compete at the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. 

CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Education Program that was created by the Air Force Association (AFA) to encourage and educate students from kindergarten all the way to their senior year about careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

At the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, teams are tested in multiple rounds on how well they are able to manage the network of a small company. Teams are tasked with challenges that entail finding and fixing cybersecurity weaknesses while also continuing to provide crucial services. The highest-ranking teams in the nation are awarded a trip to Maryland for the National Finals Competition. 

The two Cyber Lancers teams spend a large portion of the school year training for the CyberPatriot competition every week. 

“We typically start meeting shortly after the school year begins in the fall and start practicing just as soon as the teams solidify.  We meet weekly for a two-hour practice and training session with our Technical Mentor, Mr.Steve Baker, in order to prepare for the six-hour competitions on pre-selected or scheduled weekends,” Cyber Lancers’ Coach James Smith said. 

Senior Josh Staub has been competing with CyberPatriot for four years. His experience and knowledge with competitions allowed him to step up as the team leader for Cyber Lancers 2. 

“Preparing for our competition is a lot like preparing for any football game. It’s a lot of practicing and a lot of studying. We work on practice images (simulated computers), we study past competitions and review any information the Air Force decides to give us. It’s honestly a lot of work but it’s very satisfying seeing it all pay off,” Staub said. 

Although the CyberPatriot awards were not any different from previous years, their training and competition location changed due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

“In previous years, we physically met in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) computer room at LHS for both training and competitions. This year we had to quickly think out of the box and work directly with our Technical Mentor, Steve Baker, to re-create the capabilities and access of the LHS FBLA computer lab. We weren’t sure if we had the collective hardware or software with the proper technical specifications to compete outside the school walls. He (Baker) donated not only his time and expertise but the use of his personal server so the cadets could compete,” Smith said. 

Although Cyber Lancers 1 and 2 did not rank high enough to compete at the National Finals Competition in Maryland, Smith is proud of his teams and has high hopes for next year. 

“We always throw the rock out in front of us a little further each year.  Although we’ll be losing our seniors, we’ll also be gaining untapped potential with the new members of the Freshman class.  Personally, I’d like to reclaim the Platinum ranking & earn a position to compete in the National Finals Competition,” Smith said.