ES students take second in statewide competition
By Haley Schichtl
Eureka Springs seniors Levi Crider, Ethan Weems and Baxter Hager took second place in the highly competitive CyberPatriot state competition earlier this month.
Created by the U.S. Air Force Association, CyberPatriot is a program for youth interested in cybersecurity and STEM fields. The National Youth Cyber Defense Competition is the largest cyber defense competition in the country.
EAST director Adam Louderback said the students were just a few points away from taking first place, saying their EAST projects were impressive this year. It is their third consecutive year participating in the competition, Louderback said, and they came in third last year.
“As we get more reliant on technology, there’s more ways we can become vulnerable to things and most of the population doesn’t know about it,” Hager said. “It’s important to have people that guide them and keep them safe.”
Crider said he is a big advocate for privacy, so the more knowledgable he is in the field of computer science, the better. He said the main goal of CyberPatriot is to fix as many vulnerabilities as they can in a computer server.
“We have six hours, there are three images –– all ofthem have between 20 and 30 vulnerabilities in them, and so once we open one we have six hours to find as many as possible,” Weems said. “And then there’s also a packet tracer. For each round, there’s a quiz over the module of the course that the round is covering.”
Weems said it is completely open-ended; they aren’t told where to look for the problems at all.
“We have fun doing it, because there is some good competition. We were neck and neck with another team and Louderback brings his son in. He’s always fun to see,” Crider said. “We get pizza.”
Thousands of teams across the country competed, with about 40 in Arkansas this year.
“We knew which teams we were competing against to try and rank in Arkansas and they already competed,” Weems said. “You have three days to use that six-hour window and we were the only team in Arkansas that hadn’t gone yet so we knew how everyone else did.”
Weems said they did very poorly the first year they participated in the competition but have improved a lot with practice.
“It’s fun. I’d recommend it to anyone at any level who is interested in technology,” Crider said.