Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe aims to encourage greater high school interest in cybersecurity through the launch of Virginia’s “NSA Day of Cyber” School Challenge, which exposes high school students to virtual cyber scenarios and the tools NSA agents use in dealing with cyber.

“It is important that students are being introduced to in-demand sectors like cybersecurity to spark interest in the field and prepare them for success in the new Virginia economy,” McAuliffe said. “It is my goal to make Virginia a national hub for cybersecurity careers and exploration, and the ‘Day of Cyber’ School Challenge will help introduce more of our students to this cutting-edge field.”

The competition runs through March 2017, and schools will compete to get the highest level of student participation in the course. Those with the highest participation will receive a cash prize toward augmenting their cyber education programs.

“The ‘Day of Cyber’ School Challenge will be fun for our students and will encourage them to consider potential careers that they may not have previously explored,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “By challenging our students to start thinking early about cybersecurity and related fields, we are making sure they have the foundation they need to compete in an increasingly globalized workforce.”

“Cybersecurity is the ‘space race’ of our generation, and cyber skills are the new alphabet,” said Rick Geritz, CEO of LifeJourney, which sponsored the NSA Day of Cyber. “Equipping teachers and parents with the tools they need to bring cyber into the classroom is imperative. Governor McAuliffe’s leadership to prioritize cybersecurity skills will not only accelerate Virginia’s workforce, but also serve as a model for the nation.”

The NSA Day of Cyber is sponsored by the National Security Agency and takes students through the jobs of six different NSA cyber professionals. Students will receive a certificate of completion signed by the NSA.

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