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  • The Alliance was invited by the United States Military Academy at West Point and the Army Cyber Institute at West Point to participate in a week-long education event.  The West Point prep academy brought in 56 students from across the country to gain exposure to potential career paths in STEM related fields.  The students lived as cadets on campus and spent most of their time working in groups and learning about various fields of study.

    One day of their week-long was focused on cybersecurity and our Converge Tour Program served as their curriculum.  Former West Point graduates Ret. General John Davis, Federal Chief Security Officer for Palo Alto Networks, and Ret. Colonel Jon Brickey, Senior Vice President at MasterCard served as mentors for the program.  John and Jon shared stories from their days at the Academy, and also in their careers in cybersecurity.

    The students began the day with an exploration into what cybersecurity is in today’s environments.  Our mentors were joined by 14 cadets from West Point.  These cadets were incredible young leaders with enthusiasm and discipline.  We were very impressed with their attitudes and willingness to help the younger students, especially during our Capture The Flag experience.

    Students were presented with different scenarios that security leaders face every day.  They were encouraged to brainstorm what questions that would influence their decision making process.  Group leaders presented their ideas in front of the larger audience and came to their decisions.   The group decided that each business had to make its own decision based on their apatite for risk as well as the potential impact the outcome may have on their customers, employees and partners.

    The Alliance Capture The Flag experience has been the cornerstone of our program for two years now, and this event proved why it continues to be.  Students were broken into teams of three, given a laptop and allowed to compete against one another in a virtual world where solving security challenges earns you points.

    Mentors were encouraged to help the teams, but only to help clarify the question and guide teams in the right direction.  The game teaches not only skills in the field, but also collaboration, strategy, time management and creativity.

    Dr. Sam Ivy, a professor in the mathematics department and our liaison for this event, worked through many hurdles to make the day great, and it really showed.  We had a beautiful venue, streamlined logistics and a great overall experience.

    Upon completion of our game, students were treated to a conversation with John Davis and Jon Brickey about career experiences and pathways to employment.  Students asked questions like “What were some of the most difficult decisions you had to make during your career?” and “How did your experience at West Point prepare you for this career?”  Our volunteer mentors were incredibly gracious with their time and spoke authentically to the students.

    Our Director of Marketing and Communications and moderator for this event, AJ Eads, was invited to take an evening cruise with the students on the West Point Superintendent’s Boat.  We are incredibly grateful to West Point, Dr. Ivy, John Davis, Jon Brickey, Rick Howard and Ron Green for bringing this event together.  We look forward to partnering with the United State Military Academy again in the future.

    Thank you, as always, to Palo Alto Networks and Microsoft for being Global Converge Tour sponsors and Mastercard for their support on this event and many others.