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Top defence executive praises Gibraltar cyber students

The chief executive of one of the world's largest defence and security companies this praised Gibraltarian students who participated in the UK-wide CyberCenturion challenge.

Teams of youngsters from Gibraltar have participated and excelled for several years running in the highly-competitive event, which in its latest edition attracted 575 teams in the initial round.

Of those, only 15 made it to the finals. Three of them were from Gibraltar, including the junior team, which won the top prize in their category, and the senior team, who came third in the overall competition.

In 2016, a team from Gibraltar won the top prize in the competition, while in 2018 a team of local girls were crowned the UK’s top all-girls team.

"That's a really impressive achievement and well reflective of the skill and capability of the teams here," said Nick Chaffey, CEO Northrop Grumman, a company that develops high-tech, cutting-edge technologies in the defence and security sectors.

"That sort of track record of success can only be driven by the dedication of the students, the dedication of the parents supporting the students and the dedication of the education system and the teachers who've really made that happen."

Northrop Grumman develops technologies and systems across the defence industry, including on major projects such as the UK's new aircraft carriers.

Mr Chaffey was speaking at an awards ceremony in Gibraltar on Wednesday evening, and said cyber security, data analytics and artificial intelligence were at the core of Northrop Grumman's business.

The students, teachers and parents at the event were also addressed by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who said Gibraltar's students had delivered outstanding results over the years.

"It's remarkable that a team from Gibraltar has won one of these competitions, it's remarkable that one of the top-flight girls' teams has been from Gibraltar," Mr Picardo said.

"It really is a story of the sort that we might not imagine we would be able to tell if it were not for your dedication and the dedication of your teachers."

"And of course, the underlying talent that enables you to succeed in what you do."

Mr Picardo said the CyberCenturion competition had helped place Gibraltar on the map in a highly specialised and competitive sector that offered ample opportunities for Gibraltar in the future.

"There is much work still to be done in this field," he said.

"But the understanding that Gibraltar is in this field and is able to succeed in the field is accentuated by the fact that Northrop have decided to come to the Rock to visit us and to see what it is that is making Gibraltar so special in this space."

The Gibraltarian students who won the junior category this year were team Bayside Cyber 1, made up of Erin Mora-Colton; Lorena Risk-Fadul; Dylan Risso; Kyle Cuadra-Morris; and Diego Guzman.

The senior team which came third in the overall competition, G Sec, was made up of Jamie Weigold; Adam Rocca; Louis Smalls; Leon Wellstead; and Szabi Lassan.

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