RBRcyberAcademy of Information Technology students at Red Bank Regional recently clinched the New Jersey CyperPatriot State championship. Pictured above are (seated, left to right): Cris Sochaki, Zach Carrano, Tyler Birn, Josh Even, Christian Bonomo; (standing) RBR AOIT teacher Jeremy Milonas, Alex Dannecker, Louis DiOrio, Tucker Machard, Ryan Terpak, Mark Eulner, RBR AOIT teacher Mandy Galante. 

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School 

Students from the Academy of Information Technology (AOIT) at Red Bank Regional High School once again proved victorious in a major cybersecurity competition, by clinching the New Jersey CyberPatriot State championship. The cybersecurity team from RBR also finished in second place — behind the MIT-sponsored Massachusetts team — in the regional competition of northeastern states.

The ten students composing the NJ championship team are Tyler Birn (Red Bank), Zach Carrano and Tucker Machard (both Little Silver), Josh Even and Mark Eulner (both Shrewsbury), and Christian Bonomo, Alex Dannecker, Louis DiOrio, Chris Sochaki and Ryan Terpak (all Union Beach). Tucker Machard is a senior; Christian Bonomo is a sophomore, while the rest of the team are juniors.

With President Obama having declared that “the cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation,” the national high school cyber defense competition known as CyberPatriot was created by the Air Force Association to “inspire high school students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.”

Over 600 teams across the nation began the competition in August, with two qualifying rounds in which teams applied their cyber skills to secure virtual computers. RBR’s combined scores landed them in the top 50 teams and earned them a spot in the semi-finals round.  The semi-finals results posted the RBR team at number 24, missing the cut-off to compete as one of the top 12 performers invited to a special national competition in Washington D.C.  But the competition season was not yet over, as the remaining participants battled in the newly formed state / regional platform.

RBR was triumphant in the New Jersey state championship and continued to take the silver in the regional competition, vying against the state champions from Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New York.  This past October, several of these same students finished fifth out of 72 high school teams worldwide in the 2013 Cyberlympics Challenge, a global competition.

“I am very proud of this team,” their teacher and coach Mandy Galante states, “as they were brand new to the CyberPatriot competition.  They posted scores in the top 5% for every round, impressive for any team but especially remarkable to reach this level as a rookie team.”

RBR has consistently fielded award-winning teams in cybersecurity competitions over the past several years. RBR is one of only two high schools in the state that offers a significant cybersecurity curriculum. Students may pursue a career pathway that begins with an introduction to computer systems, continues with networking, advances to a dual credit cybersecurity course and culminates with digital forensics. The curriculum has become even more relevant as it is providing students with skills that are vital to our country’s defense.

As Mark Eulner observes, he had no idea what academy he would favor when he first entered RBR. He attended a career exploration seminar in his freshman year on the various RBR academies and learned about the AOIT Information Technology major.

“I was hooked,” he states, “It was the best decision I made about high school. I love the teachers; they have been very helpful.  I am a very competitive person and love the idea that we compete to be the best we can be in this field.”

He adds, ‘This has given me a real good idea of what I may want to do professionally, and this is such an important field as people as well as industries and government are getting hacked every day.  It is so important to know how to protect ourselves against it.”