SANS Institute Becomes the First Platinum WaterISAC Champion

Empowering Michigan's Youth for a Future in Cybersecurity

SANS Institute is thrilled to unveil the 2024 Michigan Governor's High School Cyber Challenge (MI GHSCC). This one-of-a-kind initiative is tailored to captivate Michigan high school students interested in cybersecurity through gamified online competitions and skill-building activities. The challenge is a gateway to ignite interest and cultivate essential skills for the future cyber workforce. It's a two-round journey, with the first round set to kick off in gamified learning from June 1 to Sept. 25 followed by an in-person cyber range tournament, SANS NetWars, as the championship, in October.

During round one, students will play TryHackMe, a gamified, online platform with a hub of interactive learning modules and practical exercises that demystify complex cybersecurity concepts, making them accessible for students. Students will not only hone their technical skills but also nurture critical thinking and problem-solving abilities in a real-world context.

Max Shuftan, SANS Director of Mission Programs and Partnerships, emphasizes the importance of the program.

"This initiative aligns with the broader strategy of the Biden-Harris administration's Investing in America agenda, which seeks to modernize and expand America's cybersecurity workforce," Shuftan said. "This challenge represents a significant investment in Michigan youth, providing them with invaluable opportunities to develop critical cybersecurity skills. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of cyber professionals who will protect and truly secure our digital future!"

The top 10 performing teams from round one will earn a coveted spot at an in-person competition at the Core SANS NetWars cyber range in Novi, Michigan, on Oct. 16. This prestigious event will serve as a platform for students to showcase their knowledge and skills in a live, competitive environment. The top three teams will be honored with trophies and receive special recognition from state officials as a testament to their hard work and dedication.

"The Michigan Governor's High School Cyber Challenge is a tremendous opportunity for high school students throughout the state," said Michelle Lange, Director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget. "By participating in this program, they will gain essential skills that are relevant and crucial to our state's economic and technological advancement. I encourage all eligible students to take part and showcase their talents."

The 2024 SANS | GIAC Cyber Workforce Research Report highlights a pivotal shift by employers in cybersecurity toward prioritizing hands-on skills and industry certifications over traditional education and academic degrees. This approach is mirrored in the MI GHSCC, which promotes hands-on skills development, assessment, and training to ensure students are honing practical, job-ready skills.

"The cyber workforce shortage in the U.S. requires massive changes in how we introduce the youth of America to this field," Shuftan added. "We need to plant the seed that cybersecurity is a career they cannot only have but excel in and advance continuously as lifelong learners."

To learn more about the Michigan Governor's High School Cyber Challenge and to register, visit