Two Winnipeg teams, both from Sisler High School, are hoping to hack their way to the top at Canada’s third annual CyberTitan competition, set to take place virtually today.
Sisler High School successfully qualified two teams by beating more than 200 Canadian teams in the nationwide competition hosted by the Information and Communications Technology Council. While it isn’t the only high school in the city excelling in cybersecurity curriculum, its students have a particular affinity for competing.
Robert Esposito, teacher and coach of team "CA Prime," says around 100 students across all grade levels are involved in the school’s cybersecurity club. The sheer size of the club allows them to improve their odds at qualifying for competitions.
"We haven’t turned away kids yet, we have enough computers and enough infrastructure to run it but we’re at the limit," said Esposito, adding the students typically form 15 to 20 teams.
To qualify for CyberTitan, the teams had to compete and place well in its American equivalent, Cyber Patriot.
Diana Barbosa, director of education and standards for the Information and Communications Technology Council, said the importance of these competitions is twofold.
"‘One of the things that I think is lacking in the general knowledge (of cybersecurity) is the depth and breadth of what that entails... the skills that they learn are something that I consider life skills, like protecting your computer, knowing how to protect your privacy," said Barbosa.
"The other focus that we have is heavily on exposing girls to the industry of cybersecurity because it’s cool and also traditionally girls are not as represented within the tech sector."
The 10 teams from across Canada and include one middle school team and one "wild card" team, this year, an all girls team.
Devlin Neil-McSwain, team captain for Sisler’s "CA Prime," said the competitions have helped him explore his passion for cybersecurity, which he plans to pursue as a career.
"It’s still a relatively new field so being able to go into the cyber security field, especially starting in high school, is really interesting because there’s so much to learn and there’s just so much room for growth really," said Neil-McSwain.
Competitors will have six hours to fix operating systems filled with viruses and bugs in a race to crown themselves the CyberTitan champions.
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