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Bismarck, ND (OCT. 2020)-The State of North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley today announced North Dakota’s participation in the CyberStart America Competition. It is a free program sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and SANS Institute encouraging all high school students to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science. This FREE cybersecurity training game runs Oct. 27, 2021 through April 27, 2022. Students can pre-register now at https://www.cyberstartamerica.org/ or register on launch day.  

“By placing a strong emphasis on computer science and cybersecurity education, North Dakota is creating paths to exciting careers in virtually every industry,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “CyberStart America offers a no-cost, virtual opportunity for students, teachers and parents to learn skills that are in high demand nationwide and globally.”  

The program involves a series of online challenges that allow students to act as cyber protection agents, solving cybersecurity-related puzzles and explore topics such as code breaking, programming, networking, and digital forensics. The program can be assigned as part of homework, can form the basis of an extracurricular club, or students can try it on their own. Participating students and teachers do not need knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to take part. Everything they need can be learned in the game.  

“This program is a great example of the kind of partnership and engaging activity that helps students discover an affinity for skills that are in demand globally,” Riley said. “Cybersecurity skills are in demand in virtually every industry and every country, and North Dakota’s goal is to lead the nation in providing foundational computer science and cybersecurity skills that will help our students and workforce succeed in 21st century careers.”  

Students complete as many challenges as possible to qualify for scholarship opportunities offered by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation! Last year 32,000 students from 4,800 high schools and colleges around the country played the game. Students won over $4 million in scholarship money and advanced training. 

“Instruction in computer science and cybersecurity is more critical now than it has ever been. The CyberStart America competition engages students in this important field, and encourages them to pursue a career in the exciting and growing world of computer science and cybersecurity,” said Kirsten Baesler, the North Dakota state superintendent of public instruction. 

To see the types of challenges students will face in the games, visit https://go.cyberstart.com. Complete program details can be found at cyberstartamerica.org. Participating students and schools are encouraged to share updates on social media with #BeCyberSmart. 

North Dakota’s focus on computer science and cybersecurity education stems from the PK-20W Initiative: a statewide, comprehensive approach to help students, and the state, compete in highly competitive, technology driven industries. Code named “PK-20W” to reflect every student from preschool through Ph.D. and workforce, the PK-20W coalition is comprised of more than 40 public and private sector participants who share a goal of “Every Student. Every School. Cyber Educated.”  



C O N T A C T : 

Alisa Cook          |     701-328-7408  



Jecca Geffre     |     701-955-0304  

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