Sandia hosts Albuquerque’s first CyberPatriot Advanced CyberCamp

By Troy Rummler

Photography By Amy Tapia

Friday, September 14, 2018

Camp participants work on computers
ADVANCED SKILLS — Camp participants work to solve a cybersecurity challenge. Cybercamp was held at the Cyber Engineering Research Laboratory located in the Sandia Science and Technology Park in Albuquerque.

About 20 high school and middle school students came to Sandia recently for Albuquerque’s first CyberPatriot Advanced CyberCamp, a weeklong cybersecurity workshop supporting the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program. The workshop taught students advanced security concepts and prepared them for an upcoming competition season this fall.

Twelve Sandia volunteers from Albuquerque and Livermore pitched in as coordinators, teachers and support staff. Some also mentor CyberPatriot teams throughout the school year. Most students came from Albuquerque schools, though a few came from Los Lunas and Moriarty.

Co-coordinators Ted Lapina and Troy Stevens, both high school mentors, say they enjoy demonstrating general cybersecurity principles for students, but Sandia specialists served an indispensable role teaching niche topics.

“The participation of Sandia volunteers from several different organizations made this camp a unique opportunity for the students,” Ted said. “It isn’t every day that camp participants get to learn cybersecurity directly from the best in the profession.”

CyberPatriot organizes regular competitions in which students find and fix vulnerabilities in mock systems and networks, doing everything from creating secure password rules to finding malicious software. Teams begin facing off against other local and regional teams in November and can advance to a national competition in April. One school with Sandia mentors, La Cueva High School, has competed nationally.

CyberCamp attendees practiced their skills in small teams, using shared systems, and presented what they learned to their peers. Each morning, they also discussed a current issue in cybersecurity, such as vulnerabilities in biometrics and “internet of things” devices. The camp culminated in its own competition day.

Sandia employees interested in volunteering as cybersecurity mentors should contact Ted Lapina at tslapin@sandia.gov.

cybercamp participants work together to solve security challenge    mentor helps students solve security challenge

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS — Coordinator Ted Lapina (standing) and Sandia volunteers mentored students during Albuquerque’s first CyberPatriot Advanced CyberCamp. The students worked in small groups, collaborating to find and fix system vulnerabilities.