Prepping for U.S. Cyber Challenge

By Virginia Lehmkuhl-Dakhwe, Director, Jay Pinson STEM Education project

SJSU is expanding programming aimed at increasing and enhancing the pipeline of highly skilled cybersecurity professionals in the United States. On April 6, SJSU hosted the first U.S. Cyber Challenge CyberQuests preparatory day camp. U.S. Cyber Challenge CyberQuests are online competitions that test competitors’ abilities to identify vulnerabilities in a virtual network and answer questions related to their findings. Results from CyberQuests competitions are used to select candidates for admittance into the U.S. Cyber Challenge Summer Camp. The day camp was aimed at preparing participants to compete in CyberQuests, potentially enhancing their chances of qualifying for a position in the summer camp to be held August 4-9 at SJSU. Sponsors for the day camp include Visa, Facebook, McAfee, nCircle, Symantec, Veracode and the Bay Area Council.

The camp content was led by Alex Levinson, CyberQuests top scorer, technology lead for U.S. Cyber Challenge and head of operations at Bluebox and Daniel Manson, executive director of the Center for Information Assurance at Cal Poly Pomona. Camp instructors included security professionals Duane Blanchard (Boeing), Daniel Blander (owns and runs two companies focused on security consulting and security awareness), Joshua Chin (one of the founders of Net Force) and Kyle Osborne (Tesla).

Speakers included the SJSU College of Science Dean Michael Parrish and President Mohammad Qayoumi. Nearly 70 students and professionals participated in the day’s activities and discussions. All are encouraged to compete for a position in the U.S. Cyber Challenge Summer Camp, where participants will work with leading SANS instructors to learn how to evaluate network security and gain firsthand experience detecting intrusions through simulated attacks. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage with major technology companies and government agencies at a job fair.