Leander ISD’s CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program Cybersecurity Team is one of 12 teams headed to compete at the CyberPatriot National Finals Competition in Bethesda, Maryland, from March 18–20.

The LISD CyberPatriot team is made up of five high school members—Team Commander Parker Knudson, Bryce Ritchie, Sedinam Azameti, Benjamin Medina and Mohammed Jassim—and ranked as the top CyberPatriot team in Texas in the 2022-23 and 2021-22 school years. The team is coached by retired US Navy Captain Christopher Fletcher.

“The CyberPatriot competition fosters opportunities for teamwork, constructive learning and engagement in a collaborative environment that makes cybersecurity fun for this team and the team members, which drives their success,” Fletcher said.

Between October 2022 and January 2023, the team competed in four qualifying rounds to advance to nationals. Each round is six hours long, and involves securing systems against hacking and conducting digital forensics to find evidence of previous intrusions. There is also a “networking” portion of the rounds, in which the team configures a mock company’s internal network structure and ensures that everything functions properly.

Josh Sokol is the CEO of SimpleRisk and one of the team’s industry mentors. He said that as a team mentor, his job is to serve as a technical advisor and role model for the CyberPatriot team.  This includes not only helping them learn the skills needed to be successful in their competitions, but also helping them gain valuable experience that will benefit them in their careers.

 “This is my seventh season mentoring with the CyberPatriot program and watching these students expand their abilities in order to compete at the national level has been incredibly rewarding,” Sokol said. “I’m hopeful that their success this year will expand interest in being a part of Vista Ridge’s CyberPatriot program and enable us to compete at this level for many more years to come.”

Knudson encouraged interested students to reach out to learn more about the team, even if they don’t feel that they have enough relevant experience.

“We teach everything that one could need to know, the only thing people need to walk in with is motivation,” Knudson said.

The CyberPatriot team will be open to LISD students from Vista Ridge High School and Rouse, starting in April. Students interested in joining the CyberPatriot team can contact CyberPatriot Coach Christopher Fletcher at [email protected].