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N. Hollywood High out-hacks the hackers for a big victory

Aaron Stella | March 31, 2014

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Cyberpatriot championship 2014

The professional hackers were no match for North Hollywood High.

The valley school won the Cyberpatriot National Championship over the weekend in National Harbor, MD, defending its precious digital real estate against experienced hackers to outlast a field of 621 teams.

The championship, sponsored by the Air Force Association (AFA), is a cyber defense competition that test students’ abilities to protect computers and networks from high-pressure hacking attacks. North Hollywood High School’s “Team Azure” made good on months of preparation and gainful instruction from their coach, computer science teacher, Jay Gehringer.

“We’re only an after-school program,” Gehringer said in an interview with LA School Report, “but we had a number of Saturdays and Sundays when we would meet. We also took our team to the FBI’s Computer Forensics Lab where they were shown how to identify hidden flash drive and hidden digital media.”

Gehringer also invited several college professors, cyber defense experts and even a computer engineer from Cisco Systems, the company responsible for making the hardware that runs the Internet, to enrich the training the of his students.

Even with the professional help and overtime on the weekends, what won Team Azure the title was their digital synergy.

“Most teenagers on computers work as individuals,” said Gehringer, “and really in our schools we also teach them how to be strong individuals. But to win at this, and to work well in cyber defense, you have to learn to work as a team.”

Gehringer went on to say that all of his students are pursuing careers in computer-related fields. Who could be surprised?

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