Cranston students didn’t take home top honors in this year’s Rhode Island Cyber Foundations Competition, but a local company did make the event possible. McCabe Software, which is located on Sharpe Drive in Cranston, donated $3,000 to support the annual contest.
This is McCabe’s second year being involved in the Cyber Foundations. In 2011, they provided funding to cover entry fees for several Rhode Island schools. This year, they upped the ante.
“We were looking for a way that we could get the word out about our cyber security solutions. This year we wanted to do a little bit more,” said McCabe Marketing Manager Jon Palmisano.
Palmisano got to experience the impact of his company’s contribution firsthand. He joined Congressman Jim Langevin and Erin Flynn, the competition coordinator from the New England Institute of Technology, to present the awards to the winners.
“I had the fun job while the techies are back here working,” he joked. “It was neat when we gave them the checks.”
Adam Sowden, a junior from Exeter West Greenwich High School, earned the top spot for the second consecutive year and was awarded $1,500 from McCabe, in addition to a $2,000 scholarship offer from New England Tech. Xiaoyi (Julian) Wu, a freshman at East Greenwich High School, placed second, earning him $500 from McCabe and a $1,500 scholarship. Chariho Career and Technical Center sophomore Joseph Caruso rounded out the top three, and was awarded $500 from McCabe and $1,000 from New England Tech.
“I congratulate Adam, Julian and Joseph on their outstanding performances,” Langevin said in a release. “With tremendous leadership from Erin and New England Tech, this program is introducing students to an industry that is poised for tremendous growth and new job opportunities in our state. You can't have effective workforce development, however, unless the business community is fully engaged, so I’m especially excited about the commitment from McCabe Software to giving high schoolers across the state the opportunity to learn about cybersecurity.”
Langevin kickstarted the competition three years ago as part of his effort to strengthen cybersecurity and create job opportunities for young people at the same time. This year, the contest attracted more than 100 students from eight schools. Students were quizzed in networking, operating systems and system administration.
The work dovetails with the mission of companies like McCabe.
“What they were working on was cybersecurity from a networking position. What we do is we work on the source code of an application. We find exploitable areas of source code so people can block that. We’re all trying to protect different assets and critical applications,” Palmisano said.
As someone who works in the industry, Palmisano said he is glad to see young people taking an interest in cybersecurity. He urged other businesses to support the competition and to take an interest in the education of the next generation of computer technicians.
“It’s great. It was amazing the effort that they put into it,” he said. “We’re trying to find the next generation that’s going to rise up and fight these battles for us. It’s encouraging for us.”