Senior aerospace science instructor Mike Blue, Cody Barschaw and Zechariah Rodino.

Arlington High’s AFJROTC cadets use IT skills during cyber defense competition

ARLINGTON- It’s only the second year they’ve competed, but the Arlington High School Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps has already placed third in state in a cyber security defense competition.

The competition puts student teams in the seat of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company.

Students are given a set of virtual images that represent operating systems, then are tasked with finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the images.

Tasks include maintaining and securing critical services, fixing vulnerabilities, removing malware from the systems and answering forensics questions.

They earn a point for each vulnerability they fix.

“The scoring is done in real time so as we fix problems, we can see how we’re doing,” Cadet 2nd Lt. Cody Barschaw said.

Last year, the team scored third in the gold category for Washington state.

This year, they moved up to the platinum category where they again placed third statewide.

“A lot of our computer skills are self-taught,” said Cadet Master Sgt. Zechariah Rodino.

“We realized that we need more training to get to that top level next year, so that’s what we’re working on.”

Advocates of the CyberPatriot competition have also singled out the event for developing youth leadership, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.