The Career & Technology Center at Fort Osage's all-female CyberPatriot team advanced through the state competition and achieved the Gold Semifinalist level, the highest level in their division.

Sam Rader, a cybersecurity student, and Alex Hill, Caelen Walker and Morgan McCormick, advanced computer engineering students, made up this year's team.

"It's been amazing just being able to see what women in STEM can do, especially in our first year," said Hill, a junior from Fort Osage High School. "I learned how many different things go into cybersecurity, from networking to operating systems, so it was nice to have girls on the team who specialized in different things."

CyberPatriot is the Air Force Association's National Youth Cyber Education Program. It provides an opportunity for students to apply their cybersecurity education to a real-world scenario. Competitions last six hours and put students in the role of IT professionals managing and maintaining the network of a small company while trying to find security vulnerabilities and harden the system.

"It's impressive that in the first year they not only qualified for gold but scored high enough to place," said Phil Fleming, the CTC's CyberSecurity instructor. "They're one of the top teams in Missouri."