Computer Science Majors Mentor Local High Schools in the CyberPatriot Competition

After six grueling hours of competition, local high school students successfully completed the first round of the CyberPatriot competition on Oct. 25, 2014.

The University’s Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program partners with the Maryland Center for Women in Computing and Women in Technology (WIT), to send Cyber Ambassadors into local high schools to serve as mentors to students participating in the CyberPatriot competition. During the competitions, students use virtual machines to find cybersecurity vulnerabilities and work to build system defenses while still offering critical services.

ACES hosted the first round of the competition in the ACES lab.

“The goal is to get more women and other underrepresented populations interested in cybersecurity,” said Jan Plane, associate director of ACES and director of the Maryland Center for Women in Computing.

Computer science majors Michelle Cody, Neelima Pradhan and Kinsey Smith and accounting/finance major Heidi Shiau serve as Cyber Ambassadors. They have been traveling each week to Eleanor Roosevelt High School and Seton High School to mentor students in their preparation for the competition.

Though UMD’s Cyber Ambassadors have worked with the two schools for over a year, this is the first year that teams will compete. Seton High School, an all-girls high school, and Eleanor Roosevelt High School, each have about 12 participants. Eleanor Roosevelt High School has an equal number of men and women on its team, a rarity as only 10 percent of CyberPatriot competitors are women.

Pradhan was impressed seeing the skills students learn applied in the real world.

“It was actually really interesting. They’re only juniors but they already know so much,” said Pradhan.

About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 9,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college's 10 departments and six interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $200 million.