Skip to main content

Michigan students recognized as top performers in cybersecurity

October 8, 2020
Caleb Buhs, or 517-282-6018

LANSING, Mich. -- Demonstrating the skills needed to fill the growing demand for cybersecurity talent, Nolan Kuza, a student from Notre Dame Preparatory School in Pontiac, along with coach Eden Konja, took first place in the 2020 Governor's High School Cyber Challenge. The winners of this this year’s challenge were announced today at the North American International Cyber Summit, which was held virtually this year.

In the fifth year of the competition, 169 teams consisting of 507 students from all across Michigan participated in the challenge. The top 10 teams competed in the final round Sept. 25. Second place went to Okemos High School students Eric Andrechek, Jayden Elliott, and Julia Ruan, with coach Arham Jain. Taking third place were Noah Hansen, Brian Cereceres, and Jarrett Signoretti, with coach Scott Obsniuk, from Canton High School. 

The final round teams included two teams from Ann Arbor Huron High School; two teams from Canton High School; three teams from Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center; and one team each from Notre Dame Preparatory School, Okemos High School, and West Bloomfield High School. The Governor's High School Cyber Challenge is run and facilitated by Merit Network and the Michigan Cyber Range, in partnership with the state of Michigan.

"Helping young Michiganders get interested in cybersecurity is crucial for both their futures and the future of our state," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "The need for cybersecurity talent will only continue to grow as we move more and more of our education and economy online. When we encourage and support young people who are interested in careers in cybersecurity, we can ensure Michigan remains a leader in the field."

At the cyber summit, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist also recognized Michigan students who participated in SANS Girls Go CyberStart and CyberPatriot competitions that took place earlier this year.

In January 2020, 180 Michigan students registered to participate in the SANS Girls Go CyberStart competition. Ann Arbor Huron High School students Lena Trang, Jessie Schwalb, Veda Srinivas, and Lynne Trang, with coach Jonathan Cook, took 12th place at the SANS Girls Go CyberStart National Championships held in May and first place in Michigan. Northville High School students Divya Singhal, Hillary Luan, Nicole Freundl, Aditi Mukhi, Rishika Satapathy, Dana Clafton, Heami Oh, Jahnavi Rajagopal, Brooke Fortman, and Hannah Wiegner, with coach Laura Stratton, placed 16th at the National Championship competition and second in Michigan.

Beginning in October 2019, 900 Michigan middle and high school students competed against 25,000 students from across the nation in the Virtual CyberPatriot program. Three teams took the top spots at the third annual Michigan CyberPatriot Summer Celebration in June. Taking first place in the high school division were students Dominic Woodruff, Andrew Talbott, Murphy Justian, Austin Hall, and Brandon Stackable, with coach Justin Biver, from Woodhaven High School. Farmington STEAM Academy students Shaila Cranson, Heidi Gee, and Amélie Strickfaden, with coach Jerry Gee, placed first in the middle school division. Placing first in the all service division were students Clara Ballard, Katie Ballard, Zoe Buckshaw, Ryan Kersten, and Lily McCready, with coach Matt Roberts, from Maj. Kevin A. Adams Memorial Composite Squadron in Ann Arbor.

The ninth North American International Cyber Summit, hosted by Gov. Whitmer, brought together more than 1,000 participants over two days to discuss cybersecurity challenges facing governments, businesses, and organizations from around the world. 

More information about Michigan's cybersecurity efforts and helpful links on ways to protect yourself from cyber threats can be found at