Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 09:00 am Categories:

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum today congratulated the 290 high school women from 21 schools who participated in this year’s Girls Go CyberStart competition sponsored by the SANS Institute. This program is designed to help young women develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills through a series of online cybersecurity challenges.

North Dakota had the highest nationwide participation per capita for the second year in a row. Teams from Century, New Town, Fargo North, Red River, West Fargo Sheyenne and Williston High School qualified for the national championships that took place May 20 and 21. Red River, Williston and Century High Schools were the top three finishers in the state. Each team member will receive a cash prize for themselves and their school.

Burgum also recognized New Town Middle School principal Kara Four Bear, one of two inaugural Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award recipients recognized by Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos earlier this month.

“Innovation and education have been at the forefront of our state’s response to the pandemic and engaging in these virtual challenges as a way to learn cybersecurity skills is an excellent illustration of that,” said Burgum. “We are proud of Kara and these students for their resilience during COVID-19, their competitive spirit and their leadership with 21st century learning.”

“Women are typically underrepresented in the computer science and cybersecurity disciplines, even though many have the math and technology skills that are suited for them,” said Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota’s state school superintendent. “Girls Go CyberStart shows young women the challenges and fun of a cybersecurity career and encourages them to think about its possibilities.”

North Dakota’s focus on computer science and cybersecurity education stems from the K-20W Initiative: a statewide, comprehensive approach to help students, and the state, compete in highly competitive, technology driven industries. Code named “K-20W” to reflect every student from kindergarten through PhD and workforce, the K-20W coalition is comprised of more than 40 public and private sector participants who share a goal of “Every Student. Every School. Cyber Educated.” The Initiative was also a 2020 CSO50 Award winner. The Girls Go CyberStart challenge will remain open through June 30 to support virtual learners everywhere.