A hands-on event organized by the Bay Area Community College Consortium and Cisco Systems helped high school students from throughout the region understand what it’s like to work in cybersecurity and how those careers are possible through community college pathways.
The Cisco Cyber Cup Invitational was held December 6 at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose. About 75 students from six high schools and one middle school attended for the opportunity to participate in interactive challenges designed to integrate hard and soft skills. The day’s challenges included Facebook Capture the Flag and a CyberPatriot competition.
Richard Grotegut, Bay Area Deputy Sector Navigator for IT and Computer Science, facilitated the connections between K-12 education, community colleges, and industry that made the event possible. Irvin Lemus, a cybersecurity instructor at Cabrillo College and an instructor at the Western Academy Support and Training Center, created the challenges.
Lemus modified some of the challenges to fit this event and worked with the Bay Area Community College Consortium to host the challenge using NETLAB+. Students also had the opportunity to take a tour of Cisco’s facilities.
Lemus, who is also a CyberPatriot coordinator in the region, said that mix of skills required for success at capture the flag was a little different than what’s covered in CyberPatriot.
“They had to get out of their seats and ask people specific questions,” Lemus said. “They got to talk to people who worked at Cisco and learn more about what they do in their roles at the company.”
A team from Grenada High School won the capture the flag competition, followed by Amador Valley High School in second place and Castro Valley High School in third place. Irvington High School, Livermore High School, Saint Teresa High School and Fallon Middle School also participated in the event.
Overall, students enjoyed the event and the opportunity to interact with representatives from Cisco.
“We wanted to have this event so that students from the Bay area could get a taste of what it looks like to work in IT,” Lemus said. “They loved doing the challenges and seeing the people who work in different areas of Cisco.”
Lemus said the Cisco Cyber Cup was one of many events happening to promote cybersecurity education in the Bay Area. He is hoping to partner with Cisco on hosting cyber campus this summer, building off the success that last summer’s cyber camps brought to the region.