The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF) awarded 63 New Jersey high school students with the coveted “National Cyber Scholar” designation following its 48-hour National Cyber Scholarship (NCS) competition.
The annual nationwide event for high school students is designed to evaluate aptitude in combating cyber threats and encourage them to become part of the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
Juniors and seniors named National Cyber Scholars qualify for scholarships and training opportunities. This year, 91 New Jersey students garnered more than $432,500 in funding.
“This competition highlights the immense talent we have in New Jersey, and we are proud of all of those who participated and had their efforts recognized at the national level,” said Jared M. Maples, former director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP). “The passion for cybersecurity exemplified by these young individuals gives us hope that the safety and security of New Jersey and the nation will remain in capable hands in the future.”
New Jersey produced five times as many NCS Scholars as states of similar population size, such as Virginia and Maryland, and was on par with much larger states, like Texas and California.
Four New Jersey students who finished the competition in the top 30 earned the highest distinction of “Scholar with Honors” and each received a $3,000 college scholarship. Among them is Chatham High School junior Sebastian Wu, pictured above.
Another 59 New Jersey students were named “Scholars” and each received a $2,500 college scholarship.
Morristown High School officials said senior Benson Liu and junior Adrian Huang have been named as National Cyber Scholars.
For the 28 highest-scoring freshmen and sophomores not eligible for scholarships, NCSF awarded the “Finalist” status. All winning students were invited to participate in this summer’s Cyber Foundations Academy, a multiweek training and certification course worth $3,000.
For the full list of winners, visit https://www.nationalcyberscholarship.org/winners-2021.
“I am thrilled with the performance of our students,” said Michael Geraghty, director of the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC). “Not only does the NJCCIC focus on making New Jersey more resilient to cyber attacks today, but we also put a lot of effort into working with educators to inspire and train our next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”
Sebastian Wu, a student at Chatham High School, ranked second in the State and 10th in the nation.
Regarding his experience, Wu said, “I started learning computer security three years ago, and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. CyberStart America and picoCTF [competitions] were great for preparing, and NCS was challenging and a lot of fun.”
Shruti Agarwal, who attends Bridgewater-Raritan High School, is another top-ranking student from New Jersey who added, “I’ve also joined a passionate community of students. Learning about this career field has been very fulfilling, and I look forward to meeting new people, learning useful techniques, and continuing my CyberStart journey.”
There are several pathways to qualify for the next NCS competition, including CyberStart America, a free online program that helps students discover their interest in cybersecurity and develop their talent and skills.
This year, a record-breaking 2,188 New Jersey high school students registered to attempt various computer security puzzles and challenges that tested their skills in areas such as password cracking, reverse-engineering, memory corruption, and cryptography.
Registration for the 2021/22 CyberStart Game program will open in October.
For more information on CyberStart America, visit www.cyberstartamerica.org.
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