Governor Sandoval and the Director of Nevada's Office of Science, Innovation and Technology Brian Mitchell Named Winners of the SANS Institute's 2017 Difference Makers Awards

Bethesda, Md. – SANS Institute today announced Governor Sandoval and the Director of Nevada's Office of Science, Innovation and Technology Brian Mitchell have been named among the winners of the 2017 SANS Difference Makers Award. The SANS Difference Maker Awards were created to honor the unsung heroes in cyber security whose innovation, skill, and hard work have resulted in real successes in information security.

"Nevada govenrment officials were remarkably proactive and effective in getting students engaged and in unleashing viral growth in participation. Very impressive," said Alan Paller, National Program Manager, U.S. CyberStart and Director of Research, SANS Institute.

Governor Sandoval was recognized for his insight and leadership in bringing the CyberStart pilot program to the students of Nevada. CyberStart is a forward-thinking skills program designed to inspire the next generation of cyber security professionals while identifying talented young Americans. In addition to providing a unique learning opportunity and scholarships for students, the program can lead to job growth and improved cyber security in Nevada.

The CyberStart pilot program was managed by Mr. Mitchell who, along with his team, signed up 188 students in just two weeks; 52 percent of whom went on to qualify for the CyberStart Game. Of the nearly 3,300 students competing from seven states, the number one scorer in the country is a student at the University of Nevada at Reno. He and ten other Nevada high school and college students each won scholarships for more advanced education in cyber security.

Participant Alexander Pasinski, a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno sent a note to Governor Sandoval saying, "Thank you for giving myself and others the opportunity to learn about cyber security. The ability to train oneself in such an important skill set while also having a ton of fun doing it is extremely important. I already had a great interest in cyber security before discovering CyberStart. I'm sure that others who have had little exposure to this field have gained a new interest in cyber security and computer science in general. Please keep supporting initiatives like these."

To learn more about the SANS Difference Makers Awards, visit:

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. (