A middle school team from Lee's Summit took home top prize at this year's CyberPatriot IX National Finals Competition in Baltimore.
The team, Error 37 from Summit Lakes Middle School, beat out nearly 600 teams throughout the preliminary and national competition.
"Once they got into the competition it was all them, there was nothing we could say or do to help them," said their coach, Teri Curp "We could tell that they were confident and they felt like they had done well. Once they announced the second place team we knew that we'd got it. The kids were all like 'Oh my gosh!' Just so excited."
The team consists of seventh and eighth graders Connor Bichsel, Thomas Cuezze, Keenan Curp, Jonah Ludiker, Ethan McFarland and Mason Sipe.
"For nationals they make it as hard as humanly possible," said Jonah. "They have people who their job is penetration testing, which is basically legal hacking. They are trying to hack us. They give us really messed up computers and you do it in very small amounts of time."
"We are given a set of eight computers at Nationals and we have to find all of the problems in them while maintaining services such as our website and email that clients can access," said Ethan. "There's also a team of people trying to attack you. You have to fend them off and find vulnerabilities on your computer."
CyberPatriot's national Youth Cyber Defense Competition challenges students to harden simulated computer systems and resolve real-life cybersecurity situations faced by industry professionals.
The program started in 2009 and has grown quickly since then. This year 4,400 teams registered to participate in one of three categories, including the Middle School Division.
"By the time these kids graduate from high school or even college, there will be so many job opportunities," said Curp. "Virtually every business, every company will need cyber security experts so these kids will be able to basically write their ticket anywhere."
"They CyberPatriot competition almost directly translates to real jobs," said Jonah.
"Since I've started this now it's made me want to pursue a career in this," added Ethan.