Black Falcons Compete In AFA CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Cary, NC – The tech-savvy Green Hope High School (GHHS) Black Falcons are preparing to compete in the next phase of the Air Force Association’s (AFA) CyberPatriot competition.

The student club is made up of cyber security white hat hackers, internet slang for ethical hackers. Throughout the year, the Black Falcons compete with other schools participating in the AFA CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Education Program at the center of which is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. This competition was created to inspire high school students to explore careers in cyber security and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation's future.

During timed rounds of competition, teams are put in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. They are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems and are tasked with finding cyber security vulnerabilities within the images and hardening the system while maintaining critical services.

Members of the Black Falcons examine a computer Oak Grove Technologies donated.

The Black Falcons are broken into specialty teams and each team goes after a particular instance in the competition. Ultimately, the team is competing for an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Finals Competition. There, the Black Falcons will have the opportunity to earn national recognition and scholarship money.

“It builds teamwork. You are talking about the fundamentals of education. You have STEM, logic skills, and valuable hands on training. There are a variety of things that need to be done in order for the competition to be a success” says GHHS Black Falcon coach and programming teacher, Chris Gaw.

At the end of the day, the club enhances career readiness. Right now, Gaw is in the process of adding a cyber security course to their school. “Cyber security is in the forefront of the news,” he says.  “A lot of the students have plans to go into careers involving cyber security. Even if the students end up choosing another career path, getting the hands on experience that they do with the Black Falcons is a great way to develop the skills needed to go into other technology-related fields.”

The Black Falcons have also sparked collaboration between the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department and athletic department. Together, they developed ways to implement technology as a means to record and analyze game footage for playback. Last fall, the Black Falcons became the first recognized group to live-stream a high school football game using a drone.

Kyle Holmquist, VP, Technology and eLearning alongside the 2015 GHHS Black Falcons.

In keeping with our ongoing support to STEM career exploration, Oak Grove Technologies is pleased to sponsor Green Hope’s Black Falcons during this competition. “The Black Falcons program is designed to empower the next generation, arming them with the tools t ?hey need to better prepare for their futures,” said Kyle Holmquist, VP, Technology and eLearning.  We hope our contribution to the GHHS Black Falcons will enable the students to gain real-life experience and better prepare them for their plans after high school.

By the end Gaw’s brief interview, the students had already fired up one of the donated monitors and desktops. Their excitement was evident and they thanked Oak Grove for the contributions. “Oak Grove’s donation really means a lot to the program,” said Gaw. “Knowing that they are earning supportive recognition, it encourages the students to work harder and do more.”

The Black Falcons even have their own Facebook page. Follow them and track their progress through the competition @GH BlackFalcons.


Oak Grove supports STEM initiatives

Oak Grove’s involvement in the GHHS Black Falcons is a parallel extension of our work with the ASVAB Career Exploration Program, a career planning and exploration program that is offered in more than 12,000 participating high schools reaching 650,000 young people annually.

In order to meet the evolving needs of the audience and the field of career development, the project team launched an initiative to highlight STEM career information and education within the program.

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