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Increased attention to cybersecurity includes training and recruiting today’s tech-savvy students (ROI-NJ: Career Classroom)

October 22, 2021

Morris Cybersecurity Student

A student in the Morris County Vocational School District engages in hands-on learning in 2019 — one of the early years of the district’s cybersecurity and information protection program.

The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation (NCSF) awarded 11 students from New Jersey county vocational technical schools with the coveted “National Cyber Scholar” designation following a 48-hour national competition.

The vocational-technical students were among 63 students in New Jersey who received the designation following the National Cyber Scholarship competition, which is designed to evaluate aptitude in combating cyber threats and encourage them to become part of the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

Juniors and seniors named National Cyber Scholars qualify for scholarships and training opportunities. This year, 91 New Jersey students garnered more than $432,500 in funding.

“This competition highlights the immense talent we have in New Jersey, and we are proud of all of those who participated and had their efforts recognized at the national level,” said Jared M. Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP).

“The passion for cybersecurity exemplified by these young individuals gives us hope that the safety and security of New Jersey and the nation will remain in capable hands in the future,” Maples said.

New Jersey produced five times as many NCS Scholars as states of similar population size, such as Virginia and Maryland, and was on par with much larger states, like Texas and California.

Four New Jersey students, including two from Bergen County Academies, finished the competition in the top 30 and earned the highest distinction of “Scholar with Honors” and each received a $3,000 college scholarship.

Another 59 New Jersey students were named “Scholars” and each received a $2,500 college scholarship. For the 28 highest-scoring freshmen and sophomores not eligible for scholarships, NCSF awarded the “Finalist” status.

All winning students were invited to participate in this summer’s Cyber Foundations Academy, a multi-week training and certification course worth $3,000.

“I am thrilled with the performance of our students,” said Michael Geraghty, director of the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC). “Not only does the NJCCIC focus on making New Jersey more resilient to cyber attacks today, but we also put a lot of effort into working with educators to inspire and train our next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”

There are several pathways to qualify for the next NCS competition, including CyberStart America, a free online program that helps students discover their interest in cybersecurity and develop their talent and skills.

This year, a record-breaking 2,188 New Jersey high school students registered to attempt various computer security puzzles and challenges that tested their skills in areas such as password cracking, reverse-engineering, memory corruption, and cryptography. Registration for the 2021/22 CyberStart Game program will open in October. For more information on CyberStart America, visit

Edward Feng and Michael Papadopoulos, students at Bergen County Academies, earned the highest distinction of “Scholar with Honors.”

The following county vocational-technical students were named scholars:

Ari Kamat (Bergen County Academies), Faith Shim and Haejin Song (Bergen County Technical High School-Teterboro), Richard Li and Bradley Emmons (Hunterdon County Academies), Noah Rediker (High Technology High School, Monmouth County), Brian Arata (Morris County School Of Technology), Tony Ngumah (Academy For Information Technology, Union County).

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