UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park computing students are applying the latest high tech skills to problem solving as part of a national cyber security challenge.

Twenty UTC students are competing in the Cyber Centurion competition, aimed at 12 to 18 year-olds interested in cyber defence, code breaking, puzzles and problem solving.

Four teams of students are taking part in three qualifying rounds, which take place at UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park on Old Hall Road.

The first qualifying round took place on November 16th to 18th. The last two rounds take place on December 7th to 9th and January 11th to 13th.

If the students score enough points from those three rounds, they will be invited to compete in the national final in London in March 2019.

In the competition, organised by Northrop Grumman in partnership with Cyber Security Challenge UK, students have to find vulnerabilities in a computer system and earn points as they progress.

The vulnerabilities replicate real life scenarios that a person working in the cyber security field would encounter – preparing students for a career in the field.

Shaun Whorton, Computer Science Teacher, UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, who used to work in the cybersecurity industry, before going into education, is mentoring the students.

He said: “Taking part in these competitions ensures our students develop the cutting edge technical as well as problem solving and teamwork skills that computing employers need.”

UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park equips students with the skills that employers need to prepare them for the latest careers in the computing industry.

Student Dan Dixon, 16, from Barnsley, joined the UTC in Year 10. He said: “I really wanted to study computer science and that’s why I chose to move to the UTC when I was 14.”

He added: “It’s very exciting to be able to take part in the cyber security competition because it’s a bit like having to solve a puzzle – it’s very rewarding when you work in your teams and find the solution.”

Students are using the UTC’s latest high tech facilities, including its recently opened security operations centre, to prepare for the rounds.

The high tech equipment includes a threat wall powered by major cyber security providers that shows live attacks and data from around the world.

The centre also has a ‘dirty network’ and the latest software to detect, analyse and test cyber security threats and viruses, as well as dual monitor support on state-of-the-art desktop machines to make analysis and tracking of data easier.

Dr Sarah Clark, Principal of UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, added: “We are very excited to take part in the qualifying rounds and I’d like to wish all of our students the best of luck for getting to the final!”

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