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Career center cyber defense team competes in Florida event | Education News

WATERLOO — The Waterloo Career Center’s cyber defense team placed fifth last month in a national competition in Orlando, Florida.

Eight members of the team traveled June 28 to the University of Central Florida for the first-time Cyber Guardians Competition. The high school event drew 10 teams from across the country. Among the other states represented were New York, Alabama, Utah, Colorado, Florida and Hawaii.

Career center students who participated include Ally Saddoris, Michael Rubenacker, Beau Smith, Anthony Madonna, Martin Schmitz, David Lupembe, Obed Kiabanzawoko and Kile Rottinghaus.

Students were given access to an Amazon Workspace virtual cloud and had a day to secure a nuclear reactor energy supply following U. S. Department of Energy policies. The virtual cloud gave them access to a web server, a database and a website for the competition. Students used various industry tools as they worked on securing those digital spaces.

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The next day, on July 1, the team faced four hours of attacks on the reactors by cyber professionals trying to gain access or compromise the energy supply. Students were scored on uptime, accessibility, and anomalies.

“Our WCC team placed fifth in the actual competition, but every participant would agree that the learning experience far outweighs the team placement in the competition,” Kyle Kuhlers, a coach for the team and an information technology instructor at the career center, said in a news release. “Six of our competitors are seniors (who just graduated) with two attending Iowa State University in cybersecurity, two attending Hawkeye (Community College) in cybersecurity, one attending Iowa State in physics and the sixth senior going to (University of Northern Iowa) with a possible computer science minor.”

“The other 2 students are very excited for the 22-23 school year to continue participation in the cyber competitions, increasing their skills and knowledge by experimenting deeper into technologies as they are developing,” he added.

A Cyber Club that the team is drawn from is open to all Cedar Valley and Waterloo Community Schools’ students. The club meets weekly in the evenings working with community cyber professionals as it prepares for the competitions which are CyberPatriot, picoCTF, Iowa State High School CDC, Iowa State International CDC, and Cyber Guardians. Any high school students in the Cedar Valley with a cybersecurity interest can contact career center Principal Amy Miehe at or Kuhlers at

Any cyber-related businesses or individuals that would like to connect with the career center classroom or club are also welcome to contact them.

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