There’s a new kind of competition in the race to the top, as a hackathon encourages students to prepare for cyber jobs of the 21st century. Recently, students gathered to show their skills and compete at a computer “hackathon” to show off their abilities in coding.

This was the 2014 IT Olympics, sponsored by Io9wa State University and the Technology Association of Iowa, in which students participated to hone their computer skills and participate in events related to computer science and STEM subjects.

Hackathon Encourages Students to Prepare for Cyber Jobs

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At a time when the United States is falling behind other countries in STEM education and businesses worry about having enough qualified workers for future jobs, local efforts to improve cyber education at the high school level are vital. At present, the United States is in the world in quality of math and science education according to the World Economic Forum.

There is evidence of a continuing decline, as Americans rank 27th in the percentage of college students getting degrees in scxience or engineering. As many as two thirds of students who receive degrees from American Universities in Science or Engineering are not from the United States.

It also comes as the United States continues to wage an unseen cyber war with China and other rivals, with the United States playing catch-up. American businesses are

Hackathon Encourages Students to Prepare for Cyber Jobs

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also under assault from hackers who recently stole millions of credit card numbers from Target and other business customers.

Tamara Kenworthy, program director at HyperStream, said the Olympics and other attempts to develop STEM skills at a young age are an attempt to close the cyber gap.

“About seven years ago, the number of students going into technology careers was dropping,” Kenworthy said. “The lack of opportunity for kids getting involved in this [STEM] was very scary.”

Iowa’s first IT Olympics were held in 2009.

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