Newswise — In response to the growing demand for competent cybersecurity professionals in the United States, the US Department of Energy (DOE) is stepping up efforts to foster a well-equipped energy cybersecurity workforce through a practical operational technology cybersecurity competition. World challenges. DOE invites college and university student teams to participate in the ninth edition of its CyberForce Competition®, sponsored by DOE's Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) and led by DOE's Argonne National Laboratory. November 4.
The event will enhance cyber operations technology education, giving students an unparalleled opportunity to take lessons learned in the classroom or lab and apply them in a high-stakes scenario designed to simulate workplace experience. The competition also raises awareness of the connection between critical infrastructure and cybersecurity and the opportunities to use computer science or cybersecurity education to protect systems that provide the economic and national security of the United States.
“This competition provides many opportunities for students to get an idea of what the next step in their career will be.” – Amanda Tell, Group Leader for Workforce Development in Argonne's Strategic Security Sciences Division
CyberForce is a unique educational opportunity as it engages students in realistic scenarios that test their practical skills in real time. Each year, a scenario is prepared for the competition that includes limitations and anomalies that represent the challenges that corporate or government cyber defenders face on the job.
This year, the scenario includes the protection of distributed energy resources, which are usually defined as energy technologies that can be placed where they are needed – during the generation, storage or consumption of energy. Examples include solar arrays, electric vehicle chargers, and energy storage systems. The 2023 scenario will require participating teams to consider issues such as budget constraints and weather load balancing.
In addition to building technical skills, students are tasked with soft skills development exercises that include writing safety documentation and speaking with senior management to provide a realistic idea of how working professionals are required to work.
“Distributed energy resources are a critical part of our transition to a clean energy economy,” said Puesh Kumar, director of CESER. ”With this transition, we have a tremendous opportunity to develop a strong workforce that will protect the cybersecurity of our next generation energy systems. This year's CyberForce Competition will provide both inspiration and hands-on experience to help develop the energy force of the future.”
“This competition gives students a lot of opportunities to get an idea of what their careers might look like,” said Amanda Tell, team leader for workforce development in Argonne's Strategic Security Sciences Division. ”With so many unknowns and twists, it's a really fun day.” Theel has helped lead DOE's CyberForce® program since its inception in 2016.
The competition emphasizes the dual importance of system security and usability. Participants will be tasked with securing systems without disrupting users' normal work operations, promoting a balance of security and functionality. This event is not only an opportunity to sharpen skills, but also a call to action against the growing need for cyber security professionals.
In recent years, the CyberForce program has expanded to offer targeted training, “Conquer the Hill” virtual competitions for individuals, and career development opportunities at career fairs. In addition, their webinar series, which began in 2021, promotes ongoing engagement with industry and academia, offering insights into current cybersecurity trends and discussions.
Event sponsors include Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and Induction Automation, among others. For more information about the DOE CyberForce program, visit CyberForce Competition® – Department of Energy's CyberForce® program.
Argonne National Laboratory Seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. As the nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts advanced basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state, and municipal agencies to help them solve specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership, and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 countries, Argonne is run UChicago Argonne, LLC for US Department of Energy Office of Science.
US Department of Energy Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and works to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information visit https://energy.gov/science.