CLEARFIELD -- Imagine trying to keep five computers safe from corruption as hackers attempt to infiltrate the network and steal files.
For the Air Force JROTC team from Clearfield High School, that scenario is more than just a fantasy. That is what seven Clearfield students will face, during the finals of the CyberPatriot IV competition later this month in Washington, D.C.
"It's kind of a nerd game, but it's really fun," said 18-year-old Braxton Allen, a senior at CHS.
For the third straight year, the team from Clearfield will be heading to the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center at National Harbor, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., for the finals of the national competition. The team finished first in 2010 but dropped to third a year ago.
"We want to reclaim our first-place status," Allen said.
But the game is more than just a way for the students to spend their time playing on a computer.
As the nation's largest and fastest-growing high school cyber defense competition, CyberPatriot gets young people interested in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines as well as cyber security.
"The scenario is very true to things they'll be seeing in the field," said David Boswell, the team's coach. "You need security to function in the real world."
Boswell works at SabiOso, a technology consulting organization, and brings the real-world experience to the students.
In order to succeed, everyone needs to work well together.
"You have to tell each other the vulnerabilities that need to be fixed," said Daniel Hargrave, 17, a junior.
Along with Allen, the team has two more seniors in Hunter Poe, 18, and Eric Takacs, 18. Hargrave and Preston Boss, 17, are the returning juniors while junior Lindsay Newman, 17, and sophomore John Maxfield, 15, are in their first year on the team.
"I always had an interest in this kind of competition," Maxfield said. "I heard about this, so I decided to join."
Returning students say that with the new additions, this is the best team they've had during the three-year span.
"The first year, we were not too technical of a group, but everyone knew their roles, and they played the part," said Kit Workman, a retired Air Force major and the school's ROTC instructor. "The last two years, we've had really smart kids, but the challenge has been to work as a team."
If they can meet that challenge, the team will once again return home with the first-place trophy.