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Cyber Cup ’23- mentoring today’s students to become tomorrow’s cyber warriors

  • Published
  • By Rachel Kibbe Williams
  • 16th Air Force
Lt. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, commander of 16th Air Force (AFCYBER) spoke to the San Antonio-region’s CyberPatriot teams at the San Antonio Mayor's Cyber
Cup College Fair and Awards Luncheon, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023.

The Cyber Cup is a combined college fair and awards ceremony designed to recognize San Antonio‐area high school and middle school teams that competed in the CyberPatriot competition during this school year. CyberPatriot is a national youth cyber-defense competition created to encourage youth toward cybersecurity or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers.
Kennedy said, “This is the pre-eminent cyber competition at the grade school level and high school level and the college level. It brings together our future and our students and the opportunity that is the cyber domain.”

Kennedy spoke to approximately 450 students and an additional 150 attendees at the awards ceremony about not only the importance of cyber security, but also the lifelong lessons they can learn by participating in CyberPatriot competitions.

Kennedy’s guidelines for youth growing into successful national leaders:
  • Work as a team. “It's as a team that you're going to be successful and CyberPatriot and the CyberTexas Foundation helps us do that.”
  • Core Competencies. “When folks ask me, what are the three things that Airmen really need to produce and to develop to be successful in our Air Force? Three things always come to the top of my mind.”
    • Critical thinking. Kennedy said, “How do you understand what's happening? How do you figure out in the fog of everyday life and in the dynamic nature of the cyber domain, what is going on? You have to think critically about what's being presented to you, what's not being presented to you, and what the adversary or the other teams might be doing to you.”
    • Problem Solving. “You have to produce a positive objective. It's not enough just to defeat the adversary. You have to achieve your aims and your objectives,” Kennedy continued. “And to do that, you generally have to have high problem-solving skills.”
    • Self-discipline. “Probably the most essential skill is self-discipline. If you do not have self-discipline, if you aren't able to control yourself, if you're not able to prepare yourself to operate and do the critical thinking and problem solving on your team, you're not going to be successful,” Kennedy said.
  • Win. “When you join the military, it's about winning. So, I appreciate everything you're doing in this activity and in this competition.”
Kennedy challenged the students to take the lessons learned in the CyberPatriot program and use them as they determine their own paths into the future.

“Find your passion, and bring it forward. No matter the career you chose, the skills that you've developed here: critical thinking, problem solving, the ability to work within a team, and most importantly, self-discipline to get it done toward an objective and win. They will carry you forward, anywhere you want to go in your careers.”