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CyberUp launches youth hacking competition pilot in 2020

CyberUp and Cyber Skyline partner for middle and high school cyber competition initiative

CyberUp, a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission is to fill the cybersecurity talent pipeline, is piloting a youth hacking competition with 100 students from multiple school districts and nonprofit partners.

Since 2016, CyberUp has engaged youth from middle and high schools in the Greater St. Louis area through camps, clubs, and competitions. These activities are designed to introduce students to cybersecurity basics and open their minds to the idea of pursuing a technical career.

CyberUp has hosted nine summer camps, 10 hacking competitions, and introduced more than 7,000 students throughout the metro area to the world of white hat hacking.

After wrapping up their 2019 summer camps, and in response to feedback, CyberUp moved to step up its STEM efforts.

Partners include Jennings School District, Urban League, and North/South Tech. Students will compete in monthly hacking challenges from January to May. Volunteers will lead students and teachers to best practices.

Its technology partner, Cyber Skyline, provides a safe environment for students to practice their cybersecurity skills. In the youth hacking competitions, students will use the same tools that security professionals use and will be tasked with navigating real-world scenarios. They will learn how to break encrypted messages, identify data breaches, and find weaknesses in computer systems. The skills the students build in the youth hacking competitions will make them invaluable to future employers.

“We’re excited to combine our expertise in building practical cybersecurity skills assessments with CyberUp’s experience with youth education and engagement to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals,” says Franz Payer, CEO of Cyber Skyline.

CyberUp will apply lessons learned from the pilot and plan for a national competition launch later in the year. With the help of our teachers, volunteers, technical mentors, and staff we will build world-class hacking competitions. Our program will provide easy on-going access for individuals, teams, and schools to learn cybersecurity. Competitions are the foundation to a robust talent pipeline and the core component to building curriculum, youth apprenticeship, and more. The launch of the pilot is just the beginning.

“St. Louis experienced an increase of 1,100 open cybersecurity roles from 2018 to 2019,” said Tony Bryan, of CyberUp. “Engaging youth is critical to fill those vacancies. We must start garnering interest earlier to grow the entire cybersecurity talent pipeline and meet the hiring needs for companies. Learning through hacking competitions is a terrific way to inspire youth to see cybersecurity as a future career option.”

To learn more, visit, or contact Tony Bryan at or (314) 764-5419.

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