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Governor Reynolds encourages Iowa high school and college students to join Innovative Cybersecurity Competition


This news story was published on February 18, 2019.
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DES MOINES – Governor Kim Reynolds is pleased to announce that Iowa is partnering with SANS to offer the Girls Go CyberStart competition again this year.  Iowa first participated in CyberStart in 2017 and Girls Go CyberStart just one year later.  As a result, several Iowa students received scholarships for advanced education in cybersecurity and other prizes.

“Iowa’s leadership position in innovation is continually reaffirmed through programs like CyberStart.  It’s why I’m constantly seeking new ways to support our students’ passion for STEM-related disciplines like cybersecurity,” stated Gov. Reynolds.  “Cybersecurity is vital for protecting our state and nation’s most critical assets. It’s also a lucrative career for young women and the underrepresented.”

For instance, Ben Fahrenkrug, from Waukee, Iowa, nationally competed against approximately 3,700 students in seven other states.  In 2017, he was ranked as the #1 high school participant in the country.

In 2018, Iowa had three Girls Go CyberStart teams place in the top 3 percent of 2,600 participating teams in 15 states.  This year, at least 10 high school girls in Iowa will receive individual $500 scholarships for college expenses.

Girls Go CyberStart  is a free, forward-thinking cybersecurity skills program designed to educate and inspire high school girls to discover the opportunities and rewards offered by a career in cybersecurity. It is open to all female students in grades 9 through 12, regardless of their prior knowledge or experience with cybersecurity and information technology. Playing alone or on teams, participants solve challenges to gain points and advance through levels, earning prizes along the way. In addition to individual prizes, such as trips, gift certificates, and computers, the three in-state schools with the most participants win monetary prizes.  Iowa high schools where at least 5 girls in the Girls Go CyberStart program masters 6 or more challenges will win access to the full CyberStart game for 50 additional students, extending the competition to both male and female students for the remainder of the year.

Both male and female college students have the opportunity to play CyberStart this year.  The college program, called Cyber FastTrack, is an avenue to scholarships for advanced cybersecurity educations as well as internships and jobs in the field.

Iowa’s students will be competing against students from 25 other states including: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Girls Go CyberStart initiative encourages participants to explore their interests in cyber studies, learn core cybersecurity skills, and build confidence in problem-solving.

Interim State CIO Jeff Franklin states, “I am very proud of the participation and success that Iowa has shown in this program in the last two years.  This competition is yet another great opportunity to provide our students with education and experiences that will help prepare them for the jobs of the future in information technology and cybersecurity.”

Girls Go CyberStart registration opens today, February 18, 2019.  First day of play is March 20, 2019. Cyber FastTrack registration also opens today, February 18, 2019.  First day of play is April 5, 2019.

For more information, visit girlsgocyberstart.org and cyber-fasttrack.org.  To see the types of challenges the students will face in the games, please visit https://go.joincyberstart.com/.

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