Gavilan's First CyberPatriot Camp Wins Three Top Slotsby on Aug 4, 2017
Students from Gavilan College area middle and high schools wrapped cybersecurity camp Friday, July 28 with a mock competition among four California community colleges, placing third through fifth.
As the local Gilroy event wrapped, national conference Def Con opened a "hacker voting village" in Las Vegas, inviting hackers to attack 30 pieces of election equipment imported from a number of states. The kind of activity that, done on Election Day, could lead to arrest. All the machines were successfully breached, underscoring the need for greater cybersecurity awareness and training.
Hosting the CyberPatriot Camp at Gavilan was the brainchild of Computer Science instructor Alex Stoykov. For five months he coordinated with regional organizers, developed outreach to district middle and high schools at education forums and trained Gav computer science students as mentors. College IT guru Eric Dietze transformed LI 126 into a computer lab with Windows and Linux operating systems capable of running Virtual Machines.
CyberPatriots, developed by the Air Force Association, grew from a single competition in the Orlando, Florida area in 2009 to more than 4,400 nationwide teams in 2016. The mission of the education program is to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
(bottom to top) Abel Burke, Aromas Middle School, Anthony Lopez, Gilroy High School,
Gabe Carrender, Sobrato High School, and Mollie Moniz, GECA, prepare for the start
of the CyberPatriot competition among four community colleges.
"I didn't even know cyber was a thing," said Mollie Moniz, who will enter Gilroy Early College Academy (GECA) as a freshman this fall. During the weeklong camp, she reunited with a sixth-grade classmate, Gabe Carrender, who will attend Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill. Both shared career aspirations in psychology and forensics.
Students spent the week exploring ethics, terminology, persuasion methods and the different malware used to hack into computers. They navigated file and systems administration, security measures and software commands.
Gavilan tapped available Strong Workforce Program regional grant funding to offer free attendance to area students. Funds covered two CyberPatriot trainers, camp registration fees, snacks, lunches, student workbooks and tee shirts. Across four weeks this summer, 11 community colleges on the Central Coast and Northern California offered the program.
Stoykov, a pathway lead for the STEM internship program, brought in three Gav computer science students to mentor the participants the entire week. On the side, they participated in the training, staying one step ahead.
Computer science students and CyberPatriot mentors Marisol Arredondo, Zachary Monk
and Jeron Wong arrived at Gavilan at different times with a mix of pathways.
Arredondo took a long break between high school and college, cycling through different majors including engineering, before landing in computer science. In addition to mentoring at CyberPatriot Camp this summer, she also took Biology 10 and worked as a STEM intern in cybersecurity at SJSU.
"I'm interested in education and being able to mentor youth," she said. She'll transfer to either CSUMB or SJSU next year.
Monk changed majors from business to computer science. He currently interns with a web development company in Hollister and is using his GI Bill to explore all transfer options.
"It's important for kids to learn cybersecurity at a young age, be their own nerd, develop ethics," he said, noting that youth often don't realize the repercussions of their online behaviors.
Wong transferred to Gavilan from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, after just one year. His interest in cyber issues began with Edward Snowden's revelations in 2013. He plans to graduate Spring 2018 with a double AS in computer science programming and mathematics and hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley, which he says has the top computer science program.
Noting the mix of ages attending the CyberPatriot event, he said, "There's no disadvantage to being a middle schooler among high school students. It's more around the skill set, not the age."
Wong is also the incoming president of the Computer Science Club. Students meet every Thursday at 11:45 a.m. to eat pizza, work on homework challenges, introduce new software tutorials and learn about cybersecurity. Gavin Jampani said he will join the club this fall. Through Stoykov's help, Jampani recently landed an internship with the MV Code Club teaching K-8 students how to develop small games. As the students build, they see how the code works.
Gavin Jampani worked on Windows OS and Michelle Kuang on Linux during the competition.
At 10 a.m. the final day, the four Gavilan cyber teams simulated a competition executing the skills they learned, hardening their own systems and attacking vulnerabilities in other systems. Each team used both Windows and Linux operating systems to demonstrate skills sets and solve problems. A total of 100 points for each operating system could be earned as the teams powered through the challenges, and winners were selected by which team achieved all the points first.
The Gavilan CyberPatriots competed against students from Foothill College, San Jose City College and Santa Rosa Junior College offering camps the same week. By lunchtime Friday, as teams called out their points for each module, Gavilan teams cemented their positions and affirmed their learning.
Trainers for the week, Andy Pham and Michael Carey, tracked team scores as students completed each requirement. "Gavilan is doing very well!"
• Third place: Taijen Ave-Lallemant, CHS and Jess Fan, GECA
• Fourth place: Michelle Kuang, CHS and Gavin Jampani, GECA
• Fifth place: Bri Lemon, GECA and Jack Fan, GECA
The mentors expressed their appreciation to the college for hosting the event and providing great support. Superintendent/President Dr. Kathleen Rose and Career Technical Education Dean Sherrean Carr greeted the cyber students Monday morning, and participants selected lunch from a varied menu each day.
Stoykov plans to invite the participants and other interested students grades 6-12 to return to Gavilan College regularly, receive more cybersecurity training and compete in the national CyberPatriot competition slated this fall. To learn more about the upcoming program, contact astoykov@ gavilan.edu.
Gavilan's first CyberPatriot team, with trainers Michael Carey (front row, left) and Andy Pham
(front row, right) along with Computer Science instructor Alex Stoykov (2nd from left).