SAINT JOHN (GNB) – Students at five New Brunswick high schools are participating in CyberTitan, a North American cybersecurity competition.

“We understand that preparing students for a knowledge-based economy is important,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “CyberTitan provides an excellent learning opportunity for students to develop their cybersecurity and computer skills so they can go on to pursue post-secondary education programs or work in this field. We need to ensure our young people have the right education to fill these jobs.”

The competition is offered by the Information and Communications Technology Council in affiliation with the United States Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot Program. As part of the competition, students use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create a defence strategy for their virtual computer to fix any vulnerability. CyberTitan began in November and has four qualification rounds with the third round taking place Jan. 13-15.

“I am pleased that for the first time, New Brunswick students are participating and they have made it to the third round of competition,” said Kenny. “As there is no prior experience required, all students have the opportunity to participate and increase their knowledge.”

The New Brunswick schools participating are: Caledonia Regional High School, Central New Brunswick Academy, Riverview High School, Saint John High School, and St. Malachy’s Memorial High School. The teams are competing in the Open Division made up of 37 teams from Canada and 2,180 teams from the United States.

Other provinces fielding teams include Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. The top 12 teams in the Open Division will be invited to the finals in Baltimore, Md., in April.

The province’s 10-year education plans aim to improve learning in technology with a focus on providing targeted learning experiences to create interest in and increase competencies in cybersecurity; ensure that all students develop the competencies they need to achieve their career and life readiness plan; and provide all students opportunities to regularly participate in activities where they can explore various careers in different areas, including careers in computer programming.

“New Brunswick is in a strong position to become an epicentre for cybersecurity and with that will come tremendous job opportunities for our youth,” said Stephen Lund, CEO of Opportunities NB. “Events like this cybersecurity competition raise the awareness of the importance of a cybersecurity education and will help realize our goal to train new information security experts and accelerate New Brunswick’s workforce development.”

Opportunities NB is the crown corporation responsible for implementing the province’s cybersecurity strategy.