CyberPatriot: Going from power to power with Cisco Networking Academy


For almost 20 years, the President of the US and the U.S. Congress have declared October to be Cybersecurity Consciousness Month. The 2022 theme “See Your self in Cyber” is especially applicable for Cisco Networking Academy, as cybersecurity is an important part of the training and digital expertise curriculum.

As Cisco Networking Academy celebrates 25 years of impression, we’re celebrating the individuals whose lives have been impacted — 17.5 million lives in 190 international locations — as our college students develop careers which might be prepared for a digitally-transformed future.

Educating learners who join the world has been a studying journey of our personal, as we’ve grown an unmatched ecosystem of private and non-private partnerships around the globe. We do that with ardour, objective, and innovation by offering in-kind contributions in instruments, coaching, and assets to help instructing and studying, as a part of Cisco’s objective to Energy an Inclusive Future for All.

In July 2022, Cisco EVP and Chief Folks, Coverage & Goal Officer, Fran Katsoudas, represented Cisco on the White Home Cyber Workforce and Schooling Summit in Washington, DC. Because the U.S. faces an estimated 700,000 vacancies in cyber-enabled jobs, Fran introduced that Cisco has dedicated to coaching an extra 200,000 college students within the U.S. over the subsequent three years.

A very balanced partnership

A part of the problem of filling this cybersecurity expertise hole is attracting college students to pursue schooling and careers in cybersecurity. And the Air Power Affiliation’s (AFA) CyberPatriot Program is a unbelievable approach of doing simply that.

The CyberPatriot Program was created to encourage college students towards careers in cybersecurity or different disciplines in science, expertise, engineering, and arithmetic.

“CyberPatriot received its begin again in 2008, when a congressional examine got here out that mentioned American college students had been doing terribly in science and arithmetic,” says Frank Zaborowski, Senior Director, CyberPatriot Operations on the Air Power Affiliation. “The Air Power Affiliation began coping with the junior Reserve Officers’ Coaching Corps as a result of we had the Air Power affiliation. After which we took it out to public colleges. And [since then], we’ve grown to effectively over 144,000 college students in our alumni.”

Enjoyable and targeted competitors

The Nationwide Youth Cyber Protection Competitors is on the core of the initiative, with a collection of on-line competitions during which groups of scholars, from grades six to 12, are put within the digital place of IT professionals managing the community of a small firm. The groups are given a set of digital working methods and are tasked with discovering and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities whereas sustaining important providers.

The competitors makes STEM schooling enjoyable and targeted — college students can see real-world implications and real-world profession pathways by way of a enjoyable, gamified, exercise that provides them a style of what a profession in cybersecurity might seem like. The highest groups within the nation win all-expenses-paid journeys to Maryland for the Nationwide Finals Competitors, the place they will earn nationwide recognition and scholarship cash.

Student looking at a table
Welcoming college students to the AFA CyberPatriot Nationwide Finals Competitors

Cindy DeCarlo, Director, International Authorities and Nationwide Safety at Cisco, says “the easiest way to get somebody all in favour of CyberPatriot is to carry them to the CyberPatriot Nationwide Finals Competitors. The range throughout the groups, the camaraderie throughout the groups — it’s extraordinary. It units the bar for what trade is in search of. They’re not solely in search of technical competency, however they’re additionally in search of the teamwork, they’re in search of management expertise. And this program offers college students the chance to follow all these issues.”

“We’ve watched a number of the college students who’ve began their very own firms, who’re tremendous profitable within the trade at this time. There’s simply instance after instance of how CyberPatriot and the expertise of CyberPatriot units these college students up for achievement sooner or later,” says Cindy.

Fulfilling volunteering

“CyberPatriot not solely works to deal with the rising demand for brand spanking new cybersecurity professionals, but additionally supplies a approach for the Public Sector groups to provide again to their clients, through mentoring help to the coed groups. This 12 months, we’re instituting scholarships for the Cisco Networking Academy Problem winners, within the order of US$54,000 to again up that dedication to this system’s efforts.”

However Cisco goes additional than awarding scholarships. Cisco has a CyberPatriot Academy throughout the Cisco Networking Academy, together with an teacher course, coaching modules for coaches and mentors, quizzes, and actions utilizing our highly effective community simulation software, Cisco Packet Tracer.

And thru Cisco’s worker Time2Give volunteer program, greater than 70 Cisco staff have volunteered as mentor and/or coach for the competing groups, as a part of our Giving Again program. One shining instance of Time2Give is Roy Vestal, a Cisco worker with ardour and objective, who helped set up the partnership between the organizations. Roy additionally volunteers as a CyberPatriot Coach.


You don’t should be a cybersecurity knowledgeable to help a workforce within the CyberPatriot competitors. The Group Coach is usually a instructor or grownup workforce chief of a team-sponsoring faculty or youth group. You don’t want any particular IT expertise, because the AFA can present volunteer Technical Mentors to assist Coaches with on-line coaching or particular matters.

Frank relays the story of one of many competing groups whose Group Coach was a French instructor with no tech expertise. Her college students had reformatted all of the exhausting drives in her French lab! With the assistance of a mentor, her workforce made it to the Nationwide Finals Competitors.

Celebrating partnership and competitors

Cybersecurity begins with the community, and it’s a basic part of the Cisco Networking Academy curriculum. Our curriculum begins with entry-level direct-to-learner programs on Abilities for All, by way of to Affiliate Degree CyberOps, delivered by way of our Academies, similar to excessive colleges right here within the U.S., neighborhood faculties, and universities. Our curriculum provides cybersecurity necessities, end-point safety, and cloud safety, to call just some.

Congratulations to the AFA CyberPatriot Program getting into its XV (15th) 12 months of the competitors in October 2022. We’re proud to be your companion.

Tune-in to our podcast to be taught extra in regards to the CyberPatriot Program.

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