DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis announced today Colorado’s participation in CyberStart America, an innovative, online cybersecurity challenge and scholarship competition sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and SANS Institute. High school-aged students are encouraged to explore the exciting and meaningful work made possible through a career in cybersecurity by playing a fast-paced, fun game that requires no prior experience. Registration is now open.
The free program is a series of challenges that allows students to act as cyber protection agents, solving puzzles and navigating topics such as code breaking, programming, networking and digital forensics. It offers students opportunities to win scholarships and additional education resources for themselves, and prizes for their schools. In a pilot targeted at young women last school year, 278 Colorado students participated and 44 reached the national finals. Now open to boys as well, Colorado hopes to triple the number of students participating and reaching the scholarship round.
“As a young person, I was very interested in technology and remain interested in its unlimited potential to this day,” said Gov. Polis. “I’m excited to see Colorado’s future leaders uncover their potential while exploring a high-impact industry that is thriving in our state and will be critical to any private or public sector operations in years to come.”
The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation anticipates awarding $2 million in scholarships to 600 high-scoring students across the country for use at any accredited college, with students able to compete for state-specific and community-specific prizes as well as national championship status.
“The CyberStart program is such a fabulous opportunity for high schoolers to explore a career in high demand,” says Chief Information Security Officer Deborah Blyth. “This is the fourth year Colorado has participated, and each year we see more students participating and winning lots of great prizes. It makes me very hopeful that this program is cultivating the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”
The program can be assigned as part of homework, form the basis of an extracurricular club, or be completed by students in grades 9-12 on their own time. To encourage participation of young women and JROTC cadets, specific communities have been established, offering additional support and community-specific awards within the overall scholarship competition.
Students may begin playing the CyberStart Game on November 15, and may continue playing through February 28, 2021. Participants will be informed if they qualify for the CyberStart National Scholarship Challenge Round as soon as they have achieved sufficient progress. To see the types of challenges students will face, visit https://go.cyberstart.com. Complete details may be found at www.cyberstartamerica.org.