NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - Half a dozen high schools went up against computer security experts over the weekend in the
Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition at Trident Technical College.
The goal is to attract young minds to an industry of fighting off hackers while protecting personal information.
"We need a lot of people in this field," said SPAWAR supervisor Jeff Sweeney.
It's a challenge of hackers versus high schoolers.
Team mentor Drew York said, "It gives them an awareness of the types of threats that are out there and shows them how to protect themselves from it."
Volunteers with the Palmetto Cyber Defense Competition say starting at an early age will pay off.
Sweeney said, "There are news headlines every day about the bad guys infiltrating networks, stealing credit card numbers, personal identification information."
More than 100 volunteers from cyber security companies including The Space and Naval Warfare Center or SPAWAR worked with eight high schools, six of which are from the Lowcountry.
"They've got teams of up to 6 students," said Sweeney.
Sweeney says activities at the competition pressure the high schoolers to work quickly.
"It combines leadership, there's teamwork, there's technical capabilities," said Sweeney.
Sweeney says it's an energizing experience.
"And it gives them a real work experience that they'll never see in a classroom," said Sweeney.
The teams are rewarded with more than just trophies.
Sweeney said, "Every member of the winning team gets $500 towards a scholarship."
Organizers are hoping the competition is enough to spark interest in this career field.
York said, "Maybe we've got some people who are going to be part of the next generation of American cyber security leaders here."
The Florence Career Center won first place Sunday with Summerville and Wando rounding out the top three.
Clemson University won the college round Saturday beating out 7 other schools.?