SPOKANE, Wash.-- You can call them "virtual jocks."
Three days per week, a group of students at Sacajawea Middle School in Spokane meet for the "Cyber Patriots." They work in teams of five to identify cyber security vulnerabilities and protect against them, all while competing against other students from across the country.
"They are learning how to find vulnerabilities," said coach Veronica Steele. " It gives them the opportunity to learn how to protect themselves when using technology."
"The most fun part is when you're looking at the leader board from hundreds of different schools and seeing that you're in the top ten," said participant Jacob Sepinuck. "There are schools in Georgia that have three times the funding and you just managed to beat them out."
They’re “Cyber Patriots” and they compete against schools across the country to secure computers against hackers. First competition is Fri pic.twitter.com/RPhC4NBdVl— Rob Harris (@KREMRob) November 2, 2017
In addition to the competitive opportunities it provides students while in school, "Cyber Patriots" can also spark interest in a growing interest for future careers. Teams that perform well can receive college scholarships, and jobs in the information security field are very promising. The Department of Labor projects 28% growth in the industry over the next decade (compared to an average of 7% for all occupations), and the median salary in 2016 was $92,600.
"I’m definitely interested in cyber security," Sepinuck said. "I'm exploring a lot of different fields in computers. Usually a lot of people try a lot of different stuff like programming and networking and stuff like that, but cybersecurity and networking are definitely my top two interests right now."
BTW, it could lead to a great job for these kids someday. Labor Dept says industry will grow 28% in next decade. Median salary is $92K. pic.twitter.com/TJQDp5buqi— Rob Harris (@KREMRob) November 2, 2017
The "Cyber Patriots" have their first competition Friday, November 3rd.