Jason Reinstedler, a student in computer network technology at Diablo Valley College, recently won the US Cyber Challenge’s National Cyber Challenge.
“To put that in context,” said Doug Spindler, CNT professor at DVC, “it’s like winning the Super Bowl or the World Series of cyber security competitions.”
Students from Spindler’s Ethical Hacking/Cyber Security class were selected to attend the prestigious US Cyber Challenge/SNAS Institute training Cyber Security Camp at San Jose State University. Every year thousands of students from more than 800 colleges nationally compete to be one of the few students selected to attend.
Those who were selected received five days of cyber security training at SANS Institute, a private U.S. company that specializes in Internet security training and is considered the most trusted and by far the largest source for IT, information security training, certification and research in the world.
Students had the opportunity to compete in world-class cyber competitions and on their final day, attended a job fair and had the chance to be interviewed for cyber security positions.
“This is a real honor for DVC students and for DVC’s CNT program,” Spindler said.
Reinstedler, a fifth-term DVC student from Orinda, graduated from Las Flores High School in Sacramento.
“It was a very interesting experience,” Reinstedler said of the competition. “I had no idea what to expect the day of competition, and I know we had one of the strongest and most diverse technical groups out of the four camps held nationwide. On the day of competition I almost avoided competing altogether because my grandmother, to whom I was very close, died earlier that same morning. I hardly slept and nearly went home. It was definitely a rough morning - I got up late, had to pack up, check out of my room and then head over to the competition area. While checking out, I spoke with one of the T.A.s for the cyber camp and decided to stay - which obviously ended up being a good idea.
“The competition was five hours long (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.),” he continued, “and I had been paired with another student from a school in Washington. Groups were either two or three people, based on the skillset of each person, and we were one of the few two-person teams. We worked very well as a team and ultimately were very successful.”
At the start of the competition, Reinstedler said, he and his partner took a good 15 minutes before they started doing anything really productive, “but when we did, we quickly took the top place and held it throughout most of the competition. We never took a break during the event. In the final hour, we remained on top and continued to put distance between ourselves and the other teams. We ended up scoring more points than any other team among the four cyber camps throughout the nation, meaning we took top places in both the regional and national competitions.”
In spite of their hard work, Reinstedler said, “Winning was still a shock, as I barely felt like I was there that day. Even now, when I look at the trophy we each received, it seems like a distant memory.” His winnings include a trophy, $1,000, a letter of recognition signed by President Barack Obama, paid tuition for the CISSP exam, and job interviews with federal and state agencies as well as with industry. Reinstedler and his professor, Doug Spindler, have been congratulated by representatives from the White House, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and other event sponsors.
Reinstedler’s goal now is to complete his nearly-finished associate in science degrees in both computer networking technology and computer technical support, and then transfer to pursue a program based on the NSA/DHS Information Assurance/Cyber Defense curriculum.
After DVC, he is unsure yet as to where he will transfer. “Currently,” he said, “CSU Sacramento and UC Davis are the only schools with the NSA/DHS program; however, San Jose State is expected to have this program available soon. SJSU would be the school I plan to transfer to as soon as their security program is available.”
After completing his education, Reinstedler said, “I plan to continue working in the IT field, same as I have since graduating high school My dream job at the moment would be to eventually work for an agency dealing with cyber crime, information security, or cyber warfare.”
Although he was the winner, Reinstedler was just one member of Team DVC, which Spindler formed from members of the Bits ‘N Bytes computer club. Team DVC competed against teams from two- and four-year colleges and universities nationwide, as well as a team from South Korea. Team DVC also was recognized as comprising the most diverse membership of all the teams entered.
“Cyber security professionals are in demand,” Spindler said. “Out of the 30,000 cyber security jobs, our colleges and universities are training only about 10 percent of the needed professionals.”