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Tech Center Students Top in State in Cybersecurity Competition

After completing two preliminary rounds of CyberPatriot – the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, three teams of high school students from the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center (MACTC) have earned the highest scoring “Platinum Tier” ranking. They are three of four teams in Michigan to do so.

Led by Instructor Susan Rhem-Westhoff, the team of students from the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center excelled in the state round held in late January. The students demonstrated teamwork, critical thinking skills, and technical knowledge key to a successful career in cybersecurity. The teams’ performances earned it a spot in the Platinum Midwest Regional Round held on February 19, 2016. The students are currently awaiting their results.

“This is the first time we have competed in this event and I am so proud of their success. In the regional round, we competed against teams from all 50 states and Canada. Their performance was exceptional!” said Rhem-Westhoff.

In each contest, the student teams were challenged to find and resolve cybersecurity vulnerabilities in simulated environments and were then scored on their work.  The “Space Jam” team earned second place in MI with team members: Kyle Wilcox and Shane Drum of Orchard View; John Wilbur of Whitehall; Jacob Blackmore of Oakridge; and Cameron Lanore of Fruitport. Placing third in the state is team “Gold Savages” with team members: Jakob Hicks and James Zuidema of Reeths-Puffer; Jordan Lathrop of Muskegon; and Charles Engquist, Julian Crawford, and Dionasio Mendiola of Orchard View. Ranked fourth in the state is team “01000111 01000111,” including members: Chad Gemzer, Kyle Knight, and Corey Jobes-St. John of Oakridge; Kellen Timlin and Derek Forner of Ravenna; and Eric Olejarczyk of Mona Shores.

Jullian Crawford OV, Jakob Hicks RP, Jordan Lathrup M, Dionasio Mendiola OV, James Zuidema RP, Charles Engquist OV [Jacob Blackmore OV]
Jullian Crawford OV, Jakob Hicks RP, Jordan Lathrup M, Dionasio Mendiola OV, James Zuidema RP, Charles Engquist OV [Jacob Blackmore OV]

Ultimately, only the top 12 teams from all across the United States, Canada, and from Department of Defense Dependents Schools abroad will move on to the final national competition. The 12 winning teams will enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the live National Finals Competition to compete for national recognition and scholarships.

In all, 3,379 teams registered to compete in CyberPatriot VIII (the eighth year), including 31 teams from Michigan.

Established by the Air Force Association, the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program was created to excite, educate, and motivate students toward careers in cyber security and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.

The Air Force Association is a non-profit, independent, professional military and aerospace education association. Our mission is to promote a dominant United States Air Force and a strong national defense, and to honor Airmen and our Air Force Heritage.