Governments of today harness digital technologies to improve resident services, security, and economic prosperity. To accomplish this the foundation for operations must be built on a secure platform from the edge to the cloud and across multiple domains. A digital networked infrastructure connecting people, devices and assets across a city, county or state enables critical infrastructure protections, seamless secure mobility and transportation intelligence, public safety, and security. Being able to leverage these diverse data sets, in turn, enable the government to provide the secure delivery of resident services, provide a foundation for economic development and optimize government operations. Today’s governments must establish a secure, reliable, resilient, and agile digital foundation for city government, residents, and economic growth.

Having said that, one of the largest impediments to moving forward with some of these initiatives is often having skilled technologists able to implement as well as operate and maintain these solutions. Developing the next generation of cyber architects and defenders/operators is critical to both public and private sector operations. In conjunction with our Networking Academies and USCYBERPATRIOT, Cisco is working to help close that expertise and experience gap.

Over 25 years ago, Cisco made a commitment to developing the workforce of the future.    Now taught in 180 countries impacting the lives of 15 million students with over $4.3B in in-kind contributions in tools, resources and support. Cisco Networking Academies work with educators and instructors across the globe to develop the best curricula for today’s world. The result is a pipeline of IT and cybersecurity talent ready to innovate and share the future. Today, Cisco Networking Academies is an ever-expanding community of students, educators, employers, NGOs, Cisco employees, customers, and CyberPatriot Competitors.

CyberPatriot is a National-level Youth Cyber Education Program created to inspire K-12 students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.  At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, which puts teams of high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a small company. Through a series of online competition rounds, teams are given a set of virtual operating systems and are tasked with finding and fixing cybersecurity vulnerabilities while maintaining critical services.  The top teams in the nation earn all-expenses-paid trips to Maryland for the National Finals Competition where they can earn national recognition and scholarship money. This effort runs concurrently with the school year.

Held during the summer months, AFA CyberCamps emphasize fun, hands-on learning of cybersecurity principles that are relevant and applicable to everyday life. Through camps, students learn the importance of cyber safety and how to protect their personal devices and information from outside threats. Standard AFA CyberCamps teach beginner students the basics of cybersecurity, while Advanced AFA CyberCamps incorporate more complex concepts geared towards students who have previously participated in a camp or the cyber defense competition, including a focus on networking technologies.

The combination of Cisco NetAcad and CyberPatriot provides the foundations necessary to build this next generation of cyber architects, defenders and operators. The talent that both the public and private sector depends on today.

I was recently honored to represent #cisco at the recent CyberPatriot National Finals competition and award over $50,000 in grants to the members of the top 3 teams in both the All Service and Open Divisions. If watching the CyberPatriot teams go head-to-head at national Finals provides a glimpse into the talent, teamwork and determination of our future, it will be very bright.

CYBERPATRIOT and Cisco NetAcad are a winning combination for building skilled cyber professionals necessary for today and into the future.

Winners of the CyberPatriot competition


Cindy DeCarlo

Director, Sales Business Development