Cadets from the Michigan City High School (MCHS) Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (MCJROTC) are participating in CyberPatriot, the national youth cyber defense competition. The competition puts teams of high school students in the position of newly hired informational technology professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Teams are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cyber security vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services in a six hour period. Teams compete for the top placement within their state and region, and the top teams in the nation earn all-expenses paid trips to Washington, DC for the national final competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money. MCHS first round was on Friday October 24th.
“The skills that we are learning can really help us attain a very well-paying job or allow us to help our country by doing these skills in the military,” said sophomore Cadet Corporal Collin Catlin. Senior Cadet Captain Alex Wyman, who led last year's team, anticipates that Michigan City will do better this year. “Last year was our first year competing, so it was a learning process. I think that we will be more competitive this year,” he said.
Other members of the team are sophomore lance corporals Mason Struppa, Cory
Witmer, Ben Boyd and Nate Heim. These cadets attend the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camp last summer at the St. John's Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. The camp was completely funded by the Marine Corps, not costing MCHS or the cadets anything.
Major Tom McGrath, the Senior Marine Instructor, gives credit for the preparation of the team to Mr. Ralph Gee, the Engineering and Technology teacher at MCHS. “We are very fortunate at Michigan City that we have a faculty member who volunteers his time and expertise in helping our cadets. He is a true team player.”
Mr. Gee thinks that Cyber Patriot is a very positive experience for the cadets. “CyberPatriot is a great opportunity for students to learn computer science and related security concerns. The skills learned here will benefit them in whatever path their lives take them in their future.”
Master Sergeant Jeff Benak, the Marine Instructor, complemented the cadets in their ability to participate in this event along with the many other extracurricular activities on their schedule. “Between now and Thanksgiving, we have 5 community service projects, 3 ceremonies honoring veterans, to include one at MCHS that we are coordinating, a parade, 2 physical training competitions, and two drill meets. To say that our cadets are busy would be an understatement.”
The cadets next CyberPatriot competition round will be on November 15th, the day after the MCJROTC honors the U.S. Marine Corps' 239th birthday with their military ball.