100 U.S. National Cyber FastTrack Winners Announced Today, Each Winner Receives $22,000 Scholarships to Launch Their Cybersecurity Careers

Bethesda, Md. – Today, 100 very talented students launched their final sprint to great jobs in cybersecurity. These 100 Cyber FastTrack winners excelled in 6 months of increasingly competitive challenges and in the process, outperformed more than 13,000 other candidates who began the quest with them in April of this year. Cyber FastTrack, an innovative program sponsored by the SANS Institute, attracts high-aptitude students, many of whom had no idea they would be good at solving cybersecurity problems and provides them with the practical cybersecurity skills training that employers require. The scholarship recipients represent 63 colleges across 28 states. Most are in their third and fourth years of an undergraduate degree program while others are pursuing graduate degrees. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. The average age of the students was 28 and the range was 18 – 63. One quarter were female and one eighth identified as minorities.

In the final stage of their quest, starting next month, the winners will complete three advanced immersion courses in cybersecurity and the associated professional certifications. Emerging from this final phase of their development, the winners will have proven that they (1) are among the top 1% of all students in the United States in reliably-measured cybersecurity aptitude, (2) embody a remarkable level of tenacity, curiosity, and rapid learning capabilities, (3) have fully mastered the foundations of cybersecurity – from networking to operating systems to programming - that are so critical to success as cybersecurity professionals, and (4) have achieved three of the most challenging certifications in the cybersecurity field. Their education and training is provided by the SANS Technology Institute in a Middle-States accredited college certificate program called Applied Cybersecurity (ACS).

SANS Technology Institute’s Applied Cybersecurity (ACS) certificate program allows students to gain the knowledge, tools, and techniques needed to launch a rewarding career in cybersecurity. At the end of each course, ACS students earn GIAC Certifications, which employers recognize and value as validation of their skill set. When they complete the program, cyber-workforce ready students will be introduced to select employers for internships and employment.

“Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field where the demand for skilled workers surpasses the current supply. These winners will set a new, high bar for candidates for entry-level positions and demonstrate to employers that Cyber FastTrack graduates are the among the best prepared and most effective new cybersecurity employees they have ever hired,” said Alan Paller, President of the SANS Technology Institute. “If they are as successful as we expect them to be,” continued Paller, “we will make the Cyber FastTrack program available to every student in every 4-year and community college in the United States with the goal of closing the nation’s cybersecurity skills gap in the next 48 months.” Registration for the next Cyber FastTrack competition opens in March of 2020.

Among the most important aspects of Cyber FastTrack is that it attracts high-aptitude students many of whom had no idea they would be good at solving cybersecurity problems. Here’s how one student described it. It’s a little long, but it’s a great story, “My mother forwarded the Cyber FastTrack announcement she got from her college where she is pursuing a nursing degree. I was looking for a new career and the announcement said, ‘Land your dream job with Cyber FastTrack.’ To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. I explored CyberStart Go that evening, and I was hooked. I applied to my local state university so I would be eligible. I did not think I wanted the scholarship. I just wanted more material. As I progressed in Cyber FastTrack, I caught a serious cybersecurity bug. I have spent years trying to find my niche in the technology world and I feel more confident than ever that I am on the right path. The training I received while competing for the scholarship was life-changing. These new skills have opened the door to opportunities that would have been out of reach were it not for FastTrack.” – Preston, NC A&T U

For a full list of scholarship winners, visit: Cyber FastTrack blog

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. Today, SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals in government and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach more than 60 courses at in-person and virtual cyber security training events and on demand. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates practitioner skills through more than 35 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers a master’s degree, graduate certificates, and an undergraduate certificate in cyber security. SANS Security Awareness, a division of SANS, provides organizations with a complete and comprehensive security awareness solution, enabling them to easily and effectively manage their ‘human’ cybersecurity risk. SANS also delivers a wide variety of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, webcasts, podcasts, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet's early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to support and educate the global information security community. (https://www.sans.org)