The best work happens when people come together to build things that are greater than the sum of their parts. For the past two years, educators, business leaders, local and state governments and elected officials in California have been doing just that to transform cybersecurity education and create a future ethical workforce through the California Cyberhub.
The California Cyberhub is a virtual, neutral, nimble online organization that is a collaboration of public higher education, K-12, government, business and military. Its mission is to expand cyber training in California by identifying and promoting best practices and encouraging participation in cyber competition.
As a result, the California Cyberhub developed the California Mayors Cyber Cup (CMCC)program. CMCC is an annual cycle of community-based cybersecurity awareness, cyber career promotion and cyber team development. That work culminates in 12 simultaneous regional competitions held as one event each February to celebrate the shared participation in this effort.
Student teams from cities in each region compete for a perpetual trophy that is displayed at the winning team’s City Hall in the coming year. The events provide an opportunity for elected officials and community members to witness the energy and enthusiasm that comes with cybersecurity education.
CMCC competitions also bring in the business community and allow business leaders to meet the students who are embarking on a career path that will provide high-paying jobs and meet the increasing demand for skilled cyber professionals to protect the infrastructure of our communities and country.
Beyond the CMCC, the California Cyberhub encourages regional communities to sponsor summer cyber camps, while providing resources for certification testing, such as CompTIA’s IT Fundamentals. The California Cyberhub also hosts the California Cyber Competition Teams Guild, a community of California cyber teams and their coaches.
Darlene Tarin, a senior at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, California, said participating in her schools cyber competitions and classes helped her become more focused at school, improve her grades and meet new friends from across the state.
“As an active member of the California Cyberhub, I have made friends in other high schools on cyber teams, and had the opportunity to learn from people all over California,” Tarin said. “My GPA went from a dismal 1.72, to consistently maintaining a 3.5. I am so grateful for this program and excited to graduate this year, and continue my cyber academic and career journey in college.”
Silas Shen caught the cyber competition bug at Troy High School and now studies Computer Information Systems at Cal Poly Pomona. He’s poised to land a stable, well-paying job after graduation and complete the pathway that started in high school and continued through college.
“I owe a majority of my technical and interpersonal skills to the opportunities that these cyber competitions have opened up for me,” Shen said. “I hope to one day give back to the community as it has graciously done for me.”
The California Cyberhub’s goal is to give cybersecurity competitions the same recognition as any other school team sport, with parents and peers cheering in the stands and the recognition that comes from winning the big game. This will help encourage more students to become involved and enter pathways to help fill the thousands of cybersecurity job openings across the country.
Scott Young, director of the California Cyberhub, said the collaborative approach is essential to driving the change needed to address large-scale problems like cybersecurity education.
“Success does not belong to an individual or an organization but to a collaboration of creative, passionate and driven partners working to the same end,” Young said.
This model of collaboration began in California but is scalable to any state or any country that wants to improve its cybersecurity education to meet workforce demand and give its young people skills that will set them up for a lifetime of professional success and personal growth.
About California Cyberhub
The California Cyberhub is an initiative hosted at SynED, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on bringing innovation to education and workforce development. The California Cyberhub initiative is made possible by a collaborative effort of volunteers and funding fromCalifornia public education, government and business. Supporters include the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office, Community College Regional Consortiums, the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the California Department of Education and countless volunteers and champions across the state.
For more information about the California Cyberhub, visit ca-cyberhub.org.