Pine Forest High School team secures spot in top tier of CyberPatriot X

January 5, 2018

Pine Forest High School students compete in CyberPatriot X at UWF.

Four Pine Forest High School students formed one of the best Air Force Association CyberPatriot teams in the nation.

Team Eagle 4 comprised of Andre Bivins, Michael Gibson, Robert Harris and Justin Williams scored 408.52 points out of a possible 555 points to qualify for the Platinum Tier after two rounds in CyberPatriot X. Team Eagle 4 placed in the top 30 percent among 2,107 participants.

“They have studied hard and solved many cybersecurity issues,” Pine Forest High cyber teacher Angela Irby said. “Most importantly, I know that their desire to learn and their eagerness to solve problems has contributed to their success of achieving the Platinum Tier Level during the CyberPatriot qualification rounds. This is the second year in a row that Pine Forest has had a team achieve this level. It is quite remarkable since they beat over 2,000 teams. I am so very proud of them! Their future is bright!”

The competition is divided into open and service divisions and puts high school and middle school students in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked with managing the network of a company. Four teams participated from Pine Forest High in the open division and one team from Gulf Breeze High competed in the service division at the University of West Florida.

Scores from the opening two rounds determined which tier each team qualified for in the state finals. Teams in the top 30 percent advanced to Platinum and teams which scored in the bottom 30 percent wound up in Silver. Teams who scored in the remaining 40 percent qualified for Gold.

Two Pine Forest High teams qualified for the gold tier. Annessa Williams, Kayla Payne, Shade Smith, Kamyrn Reno, David Penzone, Stephen Sonderegger and Logan Holland participated on those teams. The Pine Forest High team of Josiah Robinson, Avery Underhill and Jan Engelman qualified for the Silver Tier.

University of West Florida freshman Zack Christensen assisted the Gulf Breeze High team during the second round of CyberPatriot. Christensen, a Gulf Breeze High graduate, started the CyberPatriot club at his alma mater last year, after participating in the 2016 Pathways to Cyber Camp at UWF. The Gulf Breeze High team only competed in one of the two rounds and qualified for the Silver Tier of the Service Division.

The four Pine Forest High teams and Gulf Breeze High team will return to UWF on Jan. 19 to compete in the state finals. Teams that place in the top 25 percent and a select number of wild cards will advance to the semifinals in their respective tiers. Only the top 12 teams in the open division and top 13 in the service division will qualify for the national finals in Washington D.C.

The UWF Center for Cybersecurity is a proud supporter of CyberPatriot. Anthony Pinto, Cybersecurity Center of Academic Excellence Faculty Fellow and UWF Computer Science professor, mentors the Pine Forest CyberPatriot students.

“I'm proud of how all of our CyberPatriot students dedicate themselves to this extra-curricular activity,” Pinto said. “From what I've seen in the past four years, the U.S has a bright future in terms of keeping our place as a leader in cybersecurity.”