In an unassuming and antiquated shopping mall, in an older area of the greater San Antonio area in Windcrest, it is hard to consider that the skills of tomorrow are growing and strengthening. Rackspace, a global leader in hosting technologies and co-founder of OpenStack, has been redesigning the corporate headquarters of the future out of the shell of an abandoned consumer marketplace from yesteryear. As Rackspace planted its roots firmly in San Antonio soil, the company continually looked for ways to enmesh itself, and the Rackers who power its Fanatical Support approach, through community interactions and outreach. Enter a day and age where Rackspace is on the mouths of every San Antonio student who had the opportunity to experience one of the events that the company puts together.
Out of the many community programs that Rackspace lends it time and talent, one particular student program that has received targeted mentoring is the CyberPatriot competition, a nationwide high school cyber security challenge created by the Air Force Academy (note: for more information about the competition, please visit https://www.uscyberpatriot.org/). A team of Rackers, the company’s internal term for its employees, has volunteered its time to deliver cutting edge knowledge to students, coaches and mentors by hosting all day “CyberCamps” at the company headquarters. During these events, teams of Rackers welcome the entire citywide teams to come into the Rackspace Castle, the new name for Windcrest’s former Windsor Park Mall. All event attendees are invited to sit in classrooms or lecture halls and learn the skills necessary to approach the competition challenges, as well as grow the technical abilities that are necessary in the employment ecosystem these students will soon join. These events target every competition team within the greater San Antonio area, across every demographic line, to bring those groups together under one roof in order to enrich the skill of all those in attendance, whether a student competitor or a coach/mentor of a team.
Be they a student receiving knowledge around operating systems like Linux or Windows, high level networking through to very sophisticated Cisco networking technologies, or coaching/mentoring skills in topics such as technical instruction, team organization or project management for the adults, all attendees have given high commendations for the Racker efforts. This noble endeavor for Rackspace is one in which they see the benefits being shared across the entire city and impacting every participant in immeasurable ways. Rackspace recognizes that the leaders, technologists and employees/employers of tomorrow are within our high schools and traditional curricula does not prepare those students for the cutting edge jobs in technology, let alone the roles that do not yet exist in that career path. Through the mentoring and outreach that Rackspace does, an effort to transform the growing San Antonio landscape into a technology rich hub for businesses to launch and prosper within is solidly in progress. An encouraging endeavor of this sort is truly a breath of fresh air with immeasurable impact for those who attend, as well as the city, on the whole.
Near the end of each competition season, the city recognizes the efforts of the CyberPatriot program and the city’s competing teams, as well as the San Antonio community efforts, by hosting the Mayoral CyberPatriot cup luncheon and awards ceremony. During this year’s event, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro provided inspirational words of wisdom to the future leaders of our city, state and nation to continue the challenges of learning and educational growth. Mayor Castro, a long time proponent of educational improvement initiatives, recognizes that these students are cultivating the knowledge and skills to flourish in the changing economies and careers of tomorrow. It is through his leadership that our city recognizes top-performing teams, impactful contributing community efforts to assist in this mission, and tirelessly leads us to becoming a city that embraces the challenges our future will bring. By recognizing the CyberPatriot program and our competition teams, Mayor Castro is calling attention to a program that, while only in its sixth annual season, looks to ready students for the opportunities that lie ahead.
In the end, all of these preparatory seminars lead up to the national level competition that is occurring in Washington, D.C., at the end of this week. Teams from all over the nation will arrive with honed skills and eager minds to tackle the highest tiered challenge of the CyberPatriot season with the opportunity to be crowned the top competing team in the nation. One San Antonio team from the Information Technology and Security Academy, or ITSA for short, has earned the notable achievement of being the top scoring team in the nation and made the trip to the final leg of this year’s competition. It was this team, off the back of the state level successes it culled, that received the 2014 Mayoral Cup, awarded by Mayor Castro, at the annual San Antonio Mayoral CyberPatriot Luncheon. While the ITSA team did not bring home the gold, their level of dedication, vigor and achievements are immeasurable and the city could not be prouder of their efforts. Having developed a deep relationship with this team, as well as many others throughout the city (almost 80 teams total from San Antonio, this year), Rackspace would like to extend its support and praise to all teams, including those that will join the program in the future. On behalf of Rackspace, all there is left to say to our San Antonian teams is, “Happy hacking, CyberPatriots!!”