Final week to register for nationwide Girls Go CyberStart competition

Time is ticking away for Hoosier high school girls to compete against their peers in the 2019 Girls Go CyberStart competition, a skills-based competition designed to encourage girls to pursue cyber-based learning and career opportunities.

Indiana is one of 27 states participating in the second year of the competition. Last year, more than 6,500 girls participated nationwide, including more than 400 Indiana high school students. This year, the winning Indiana teams will be recognized by Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch at the Cybertech Midwest conference in July. The three Indiana schools with the most participation also will receive $1,000, $750 and $500, respectively.

“Having a pipeline of skilled workers, especially in cyber-based fields, is going to be imperative if we want to keep Indiana’s economic thriving,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “I cannot wait to see the Indiana teams who are going to compete in this unique opportunity, and encourage these young women to apply.”

The country faces a deep shortage in computer science and cyber-trained workers, although experts predict these to be some of the highest paying, in-demand jobs. Since 2010, cyber jobs have increased by more than 75 percent, outpacing the talent pool and resulting in more than 1 million unfilled cyber positions nationwide. In Indiana, an estimated 2,300 jobs are unfilled, according to the Cyberseek jobs tool.

CyberStart is geared toward increasing female interest and participation in the field, which faces diversity challenges in addition to overall shortages. The challenge can illustrate the possibilities for young women, to both tap their potential and explore exciting career opportunities.

Participants in the competition will take on the roles of agents in the Cyber Protection Agency, during which they will develop forensic and analytical skills and deploy them to sleuth through challenges and tackle various online cybercriminal gangs.

As they work their way through the game, players will be challenged to solve puzzles and be introduced to a broad spectrum of cybersecurity disciplines, including forensics, open-source intelligence, cryptography and web application security.

Female students in grades 9-12 can participate for free, either as individuals or as part of a school-based team. Participating students do not need prior cybersecurity knowledge or IT experience. All that is required is a computer and an Internet connection.

Registration for the competition is open through March 20, when the assessment begins followed by the competition. Interested students can find out more information and register for Girls Go CyberStart at girlsgocyberstart.org.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Homeland Security