MCISSE CyberPatriot Program
What is CyberPatriot?
CyberPatriot is the premier national youth cyber education program created to inspire high school and middle school students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future. The program was created by the Air Force Association. The Northrop Grumman Foundation is the presenting sponsor.
Who makes up a team?
Each CyberPatriot team requires a coach, usually a teacher or adult leader of a team-sponsoring organization. Coaches need no special technical background. Any teacher or youth organization leader with the desire to help students learn something new, exciting and relevant can be a great CyberPatriot coach!
In addition to the coach, a team is made up of two to six students (five competitors, one alternate). Students must be registered with the CyberPatriot Program office and must be enrolled with the school or organization they are competing with. All cyber teaching materials are provided, and there is no course or skill prerequisite for the program. Any student with the interest can join a team and be successful.
In cases where a team needs help with computer basics, the coach can request help from qualified technical mentors. Technical mentors are local volunteers who possess appropriate IT knowledge and skills. Background checks are required of all Technical Mentors in our mentor network.
What does a school need to participate?
One to three computers and an Internet connection are required for occasional weekend use during the online portions of the competition. Computer hardware requirements are modest, and most schools already have computers that meet the technical specifications of the competition. The computer technical requirements are available on www.uscyberpatriot.org. In the event that a school cannot provide the needed equipment or Internet connection, CyberPatriot will assist in attempting to provide possible leads in locating equipment. For teams needing alternate Internet connection, CyberPatriot will provide AT&T Air Cards (provided on a needs/first come-first serve basis). CyberPatriot’s goal is to make sure that every team that wants to participate can participate.
There is a $195 registration fee for each team registered ($155 for middle school teams). All girl teams, Title I Schools, JROTC, Civil Air Patrol and Naval Sea Cadet teams pay no fee. In return, the team receives access to the Microsoft Developers Network Academic Alliance software. This allows the team to download a number of operating systems and productivity tools that can be used to prepare for the competition, a benefit that alone is worth several thousand dollars. Each registered team member also receives a CyberPatriot participant kit. Past kits have included a t-shirt, commemorative coin, official competitor’s pin and other CyberPatriot gear.
What training materials does a coach need?
Although coaches are welcome to supplement the provided teaching materials as they wish, all materials necessary for a successful competition are provided on the CyberPatriot website. Teachers (and other coaches) are encouraged to use the provided materials not solely for use in preparing their team for competition, but also to educate all students in their school or organization about good cyber security practices and safe computer and Internet use.
How does competition work?
Teams compete in three divisions:
• Open High School Division*: Open to all high schools, scouting units, Boys and Girls Clubs, and approved high school home school programs across the country
• All Service Division: High school JROTC Programs / Civil Air Patrol units / Naval Sea Cadet Corps units
• Middle School Division*: Open to teams of middle school students
*MCISSE has been actively recruiting schools to play in these two divisions.
The early rounds of the competition are done online during weekends from the teams’ home locations (schools, homes, libraries, etc.).
Prior to the rounds, teams download “virtual image” representations of operating systems with known flaws, or cybersecurity “vulnerabilities”. Teams must find the flaws while keeping computer functions working. Team progress is recorded by a central CyberPatriot scoring system.
For the Open and All Service divisions, scores from two online qualification rounds are added together to determine team placement into one of three tiers for the State Round: Platinum, Gold or Silver.
These tiers have cybersecurity challenges of different degrees of complexity, with Platinum being the tier with the highest degree of difficulty and the only tier where teams have the opportunity to advance to the National Finals competition. After the online State Round, the top teams in each state advance to the Regional Round for the Open Division. The top six teams in each All Service Division category advance to the Category Round.
Following the Regional and Category rounds, the top 12 Open Division teams and top two teams from each All Service Division category (Air Force/Army/Marine Corps/Navy JROTC, CAP, USNSCC) and one wild card team advance, all-expenses paid, to the in-person National Finals Competition held in Baltimore, Maryland. There, the finalists compete face-to-face against other teams in their division to defend virtual networks from a professional aggressor team. Winners of the National Finals are awarded scholarship grants.
The middle school competition is slightly different. After two qualifying rounds, the top 50% of teams advance to the Semifinals. From there, the top three teams advance to the National Finals Competition.
University of Detroit Mercy's Center for Cybersecurity & Intelligence Studies Leads the Way!
Our Center is proud to provide the leadership for MCISSE since 2006. We have paid the registration fee for 11 teams the last two years. We have also helped provide advisers and mentors to support nine new teams introduced to the competition by MCISSE. More information can be obtained at our LinkedIn Group.
University of Detroit Mercy and MCISSE members have been traveling across Michigan informing the public about this amazing competition and the ease of fielding a CyberPatriot team. A generous alumnus has also offered to underwrite the cost of five more teams. Please contact Tamara Shoemaker, director of Detroit Mercy's Center for Cybersecurity & Intelligence Studies for more information on the CyberPatriot program in Michigan: firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-325-6823.