Cybersecurity contest challenges California students to explore high-paying career path

580 200 Nadine Ono

Participants in the 2018 California Mayors Cyber Cup (Photo: Gary Chu/Flickr)

As society becomes more dependent on connectivity, the threats to our personal information and larger infrastructure systems, like our power grids, increase. Those threats are making cybersecurity one of the country’s fastest growing sectors. Official estimates show the industry’s job growth at 28 percent until at least 2026 and at the beginning of last year there were an estimated 500,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S.

On Friday, February 23, students from across the state will compete in The California Mayors Cyber Cup (CMCC), an event to raise awareness about cybersecurity and the employment opportunities in that field. More than 270 teams composed of 1,300 middle and high school students will represent 150 California cities. The competition will take place simultaneously in 12 locations from Butte County to San Diego and bring together stakeholders including students, parents, educators, public and private sector leaders to help build California’s future cybersecurity workforce.

The event is hosted by California Cyberhub, an online organization dedicated to creating a workforce of ethical cybersecurity experts in California, with support from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

“We are pleased to support this very important program that not only addresses the ongoing workforce needs of the industry, where demand for trained and qualified professionals will only continue to increase,” said Sheneui Weber, vice chancellor of workforce and economic development for the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. “Cybersecurity careers also provide a great path for our students, leading to many well-paid and portable jobs and will also help address the workforce diversity issue for this industry.”

The competing teams will work to solve a cyber-threat scenario based on real information. The winning teams will be awarded trophies that will be displayed in their hometown city halls. The competition also kicks off a yearlong cycle to create new cyber teams focusing on rural and economically depressed regions. The goal is to support and encourage development of cyber education programs across the state.

“Cybersecurity is the number one threat nationwide: it impacts every government entity, business, educational institution, and each one of us personally,” said Mario Garcia, commander of the California Cybersecurity Integration Center. “California Cyberhub is helping to unify California’s efforts to fill open cybersecurity jobs by encouraging the development of cyber education and cyber competition opportunities.” Garcia will kick off the event through a video conference with the participants.

After the competition and awards presentation, the participants will hear from industry leaders about career opportunities to encourage the students to continue their educational and career pathway in cybersecurity.

Garcia shared a message for California's students, saying “Those opportunities are just waiting for you to get involved, get prepared, and graduate. Hurry up. We need you!”


Nadine Ono

All stories by: Nadine Ono