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Cybersecurity. It is a term that conjures up anxiety for IT managers, stress for business owners and frustration for policy makers. However, for the hundreds of students descending on Fredericton, New Brunswick, for the CyberTitan National Finals, cybersecurity has a very different meaning: opportunity.

CyberTitan is a program developed by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) in affiliation with the (US) Air Force Association's CyberPatriot Program, which helps train students pursuing careers in cybersecurity. The CyberTitan National Finals will see 10 teams from across the country compete to determine the best cyber warriors in Canada.

Sasha Noukhovitch is the coach for Team 6ixside Tech at Earl Haig Secondary School in North York. Noukhovitch has been teaching computer studies since February 2000, and in 2016, he decided to enhance his students' learning by competing in CyberPatriot IX, a cybersecurity program offered by the US Air Force Association.

The experience that both teachers and students gained at CyberPatriot will be valuable for the upcoming CyberTitan National Finals as Team 6ixside Tech will be up against the best cybersecurity programs from high schools across the country. While the competition is important, Noukhovitch is even more excited about the skills that he is able to pass on to his students.

“The competition has been an enriching experience, and we hope the team can influence younger students to pursue their interests in cybersecurity. We hope to implement skills we've acquired in as we pursue further education in the field, and pass on the passion we have to our peers,” said Noukhovitch.

Similarly, at Sisler High School in Winnipeg, Robert Esposito has been teaching cybersecurity skills to his students through their involvement with the CyberPatriot program.

Esposito has coached Team 0.07 for the past six years, and Sisler High School was instrumental in bringing together CyberPatriot and ICTC, which became the foundation for the CyberTitan program. According to Esposito, having a Canadian version of the cybersecurity competition is unique opportunity to bring together the brightest young minds in the country, and provide an opportunity for teachers to network and develop IT security curriculum strategies.

“As teachers and coaches at Canada's largest cybersecurity program, we are always looking to enhance our broad-based integrated technology curriculum and contextual learning opportunities within the field,” said Esposito. “The CyberTitan online competitions this year engaged over 100 students at Sisler within five rounds of intense online competition that tested their cyber security skills and teamwork abilities.”

CIRA is proud to support CyberTitan, and we will be watching the competition on May 16 with great interest. If you would like to follow the competition on Twitter, check out the hashtag #CyberTitan.