Delaware’s Launches Girls Go CyberStart Challenge

February 18, 2019

Media Contact:
Christina Dirksen, Strategic Communications Manager, DTI
(302) 739-9736 w


GirlsGoCyberStart offers innovative online cybersecurity program, plus prizes and recognition for Delaware’s young women in grades 9-12

DOVER, Del. — Governor John Carney and Chief Information Officer (CIO) James Collins today announced that Delaware is again partnering with the SANS Institute on an initiative to empower high school girls by providing an opportunity for them to discover if they have an interest and aptitude for a career in cybersecurity. High school girls in grades 9 through 12 are invited to participate in the Girls Go CyberStart challenge in which they will compete for prizes and to win the opportunity for 50 additional students in their school to play, extending the competition. $200,000 in scholarships for high school juniors and seniors who do well in the game has also been made available. In Delaware, at least 10 high school girls will each win $500 scholarships to help them pay for college.

Girls Go CyberStart is a free, innovative, online game of discovery that guides participants through a variety of challenges and puzzles which tests decision-making skills and introduces concepts such as open-source intelligence, cryptography, and web application and more, to spark an interest in the field of cybersecurity.

In 2018, 287 girls represented 113 teams from 26 Delaware high schools that participated in Girls Go CyberStart. The goal for 2019 is to increase those numbers even more.

 “We know that women are underrepresented in STEM fields and we must empower our young women through creative initiatives like Girls Go CyberStart,” said Governor John Carney. “We are excited to again be partnering with the SANS Institute and we want to encourage our young women in high school to take advantage of this opportunity to explore career options in this vital field.”


“Girls Go CyberStart is a really fun way for young women to try their hand at cybersecurity and parents like it because it’s free,” said CIO James Collins. “We have to be purposeful about creating opportunities that empower and inspire that untapped potential. We are grateful that the SANS Institute recognizes the importance and value of a diversified workforce and partners with us to achieve that goal.”

“The GirlsGo competition really impacted my view of cybersecurity and has caused me to consider a job in the field,” commented Olivia Lundstrom, a member of Padua’s 2018 Cyber Sister team. “I loved how fun and challenging it was to play, and it taught me a lot about cybersecurity that I would have never known had I not played.”

Students interested in participating do not need any programming or cybersecurity experience; only access to a computer and internet connection. Young women in high school in Delaware who excel in the GirlsGoCyberStart game will have the opportunity to win computers and other prizes from SANS.

“This is a phenomenal opportunity for young women to explore a high-demand career area.  Since no past experience is needed, there are no barriers to keep even more of our high school students from participating,” said Secretary of Education Susan Bunting.

Young women in high school in Delaware will be participating alongside students from across the nation. Registration will begin on February 18 and Girls Go CyberStart play will open on March 20.

When asked why SANS is partnering with Delaware in GirlsGoCyberStart program, SANS Director of Research, Alan Paller said, “Because the nation desperately needs more highly-skilled cyber professionals, and we have evidence that CyberStart improves the quality and preparation of people entering the cybersecurity field.  Women are significantly underrepresented in the technical side of cybersecurity. By opening CyberStart to thousands of girls in high school, and to all college students, we hope to help the nation identify the next generation of talented people who will excel in this critical field.”

Additionally, male and female college students will also be able to play this year in a companion program called Cyber FastTrack, which opens for registration on February 18. Play will being on April 5. Cyber FastTrack allows students who excel in both the CyberStart Game and CyberStart Essentials (an online course that extends the learning of CyberStart Game) to be eligible to win $2.5 million in scholarships for advanced cybersecurity training and to be introduced to employers for internships and jobs in the field.

For more information about cybersecurity, Girls Go CyberStart, or Cyber Fast Track please visit,, and



About the Delaware Department of Technology and Information

The Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is the state’s central IT organization, chartered to deliver core services to other state organizations and exercise governance over the technology direction and investments of the state. DTI provides enterprise services that enable other organizations to effectively fulfill their missions.


About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS provides cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 50 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community.










DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is pleased to announce that Chief Information Officer James Collins has been elected to serve as the National Association for State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Executive Committee President for the 2018-19 program year. The organization made the announcement Sunday during its annual conference in San Diego. CIO Collins previously served as vice president and succeeds Bo Reese, Chief Information Officer for the State of Oklahoma as president.

“James has a history of hard work and of bringing good ideas to the table,” said Governor John Carney. “As Delaware’s chief information officer, James is tasked with leading our broadband expansion initiative, protecting the state from cyber-attacks, and promoting open data across Delaware. I’m confident that James will greatly contribute to the leadership of NASCIO, and I congratulate him on this achievement.”

“I am deeply honored to be elected to serve as NASCIO’s president and I am committed to continuing the outstanding work it does to support state CIOs and members,” said CIO James Collins. “NASCIO provides a forum for members to engage in unprecedented levels of collaboration, as well as opportunities to share ideas and best practices. I look forward to working with NASCIO staff, government leaders and our private sector partners to develop innovative solutions for the public good.”

NASCIO’s mission is to foster government excellence through quality business practices, information management, and technology policy. The Executive Committee is the elected governance body of NASCIO responsible for directing, through executive management, the general business of the Association. Duties include strategic planning, establishing membership policy, dues; and approving the annual budget and business workplan of the Association.

Under the leadership of CIO Collins, Delaware has worked diligently to expand broadband throughout the state — which boasts some of the highest speeds in the nation — increase citizen engagement, lead the effort to increase open data and utilize data analytics, and achieved 100% school connectivity. Additionally, Delaware is the only state to implement a single statewide Enterprise Resource Planning system supporting fiscal, payroll and human resources practices for all branches of government, including K-12 and higher education.

CIO James Collins

# # #

About the Delaware Department of Technology and Information
The Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is the state’s central IT organization, chartered to deliver core services to other state organizations and exercise governance over the technology direction and investments of the state. DTI provides innovative enterprise services enabling other organizations to effectively fulfill their missions.


DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is pleased to welcome Solomon Adote as the new Chief Security Officer. Solomon will be responsible for enhancing and improving the state’s cyber security strategy, including the design and execution of the Delaware Information Security Program and the Continuity of Government and Disaster Recovery Program.

“Cyber security is more important now than ever and we are excited to welcome Solomon back to lead our efforts,’ said Chief Information Officer James Collins. “He brings a great blend of organizational and tactical information security experience that will be invaluable as our enterprise digital government strategy evolves.”

Solomon brings great experience designing comprehensive information security programs and deploying some of the industry’s leading technologies. He has also developed hybrid-managed and in-house Security Operations Centers (SOC) and led the architecture and implementation of secure computing environments for both public and private clouds. Most recently, he led FMC, Inc.’s global IT cyber security team for six years. He was responsible for the security of a complex, 90-site international manufacturing and corporate network. His team covered all aspects of cyber security —from network security, application security, incident response, identity and access lifecycle management, to internet and remote access. Solomon also previously worked as an IT security technical lead at QVC Inc., the third largest e-commerce company in North America, where he secured a dynamic Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant credit card processing environment with a web presence in multiple countries.

Solomon’s educational accomplishments include a Master of Science in Computer Information Technology degree from Regis University and various industry leading certifications including: Computer Information Security Management (CISM), Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), Cisco Certified Network Profession in Security (CCNP-S), Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH), and SANs Firewall Security Analyst, among others.


About the Delaware Department of Technology and Information
The Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is the state’s central IT organization, chartered to deliver core services to other state organizations and exercise governance over the technology direction and investments of the state. DTI provides enterprise services that enable other organizations to effectively fulfill their missions.

Solomon Adote, Chief Security Officer

Delaware Recognized for 100% School Connectivity

Report notes Delaware exceeds broadband speeds for students in schools across the state

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware is a national leader in classroom broadband speeds and connectivity, according to a 2018 State of the States report Expanding Digital Learning in Every Classroom, Every Day released this week by Education Superhighway. The State of Delaware is recognized for 100 percent school connectivity. The report also highlights that the First State exceeds the 100 kbps per student goal. Over the past three years, connectivity speeds in Delaware schools have increased nearly eight times from 82 to 638 kbps.

“My most important job as Governor is to make sure that Delaware has a strong, growing, and competitive economy. In order to achieve that, we must do everything we can to prepare our students for success,” said Governor John Carney. “That includes helping provide students and educators with reliable access to high-speed broadband service. The availability of high-speed broadband to leverage digital learning is an absolute must and the need for reliable access will only grow.”

“We are really excited that all our schools are connected and we have been able to increase speeds,” said James Collins, Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information. “This is part of an ongoing process to improve access to broadband across the State. At the end of the day these students go home and they still need to do their homework and remain connected. We’re working to leverage the investments we have made in our fiber broadband infrastructure. Our hope is to eliminate broadband deserts across our state entirely over the next 24 months through wireless connectivity.”

“Every child should graduate from Delaware’s public schools prepared to succeed in college or in a career,” said Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “High-speed internet access to information and digital content are not only essential to learning but are also critical to preparing students for work in the future. I’m proud our state has worked to improve access for children and educators across the state.”


Related news:
Expanding Access to High-Speed Broadband

Expanding Access to High-Speed Broadband

[AUGUST UPDATE: Click here to view request for proposal]

Applying for a job, or recruiting talented employees for your business. Taking a college course. Reading a book. Helping your kids with math homework.

More and more, these are tasks that Delawareans are completing online —to further their education, acquire new skills, and compete in an economy that is evolving every day. My most important job as Governor is to make sure that Delaware has a strong, growing, and competitive economy. That’s why, among other steps we’re taking, it’s so important for us to expand access to high-speed broadband service across our state - especially in areas where service is spotty or unavailable today.

Over the next two years, working with partners in the private sector, we plan to eliminate broadband deserts and ensure that every Delaware citizen and business has access to high-speed broadband service.

Delaware has consistently been recognized for having among the fastest internet speeds in the country. Ensuring reliable access to the internet for even more Delawareans will help prepare our young people for the economy of the future, and it will help our existing workforce do their jobs even better.

“As vice chair of the House Committee on Telecommunication Internet and Technology, I believe that every Delawarean should have equal access to high quality broadband,” said Representative Trey Paradee, a Dover Democrat. “I’m proud of the efforts made in Delaware to expand broadband access throughout the state.”

“Connectivity is the key. Many areas of our county have been under served by the major Internet players for many years,” said Senator Brian Pettyjohn, a Georgetown Republican. “Bringing broadband access will help families, students, businesses, and our agricultural community compete in the modern world.”

Governor Carney with Josh Wharton from DEC
Josh Wharton and Governor Carney

On Tuesday, during a tour of Delaware Electric Cooperative in Greenwood, we saw how important broadband access is to the delivery of electricity to customers across Kent and Sussex counties.

Josh Wharton, a Delaware Electric Cooperative operations supervisor, shared one of his favorite stories. One night at 11:00 p.m., Josh received a call from another power company that had a fire on a power line. The company asked Josh to redirect power to 5,000 customers before their service was impacted. From his home in Gumboro, Josh used an iPad to guarantee those customers didn’t lose power. How was that possible? A high-speed, remote internet connection.

Businesses need to reach their customers, and set up shop in locations that enable them to communicate efficiently. High-speed broadband is critical for companies of all sizes, and it’s why we’re working to ensure businesses have access to quality internet service statewide.

We also heard from R.C. Willin and Brent Willin of Willin Farms on how their fifth-generation family farm uses internet connectivity to make adjustments to planting, monitor equipment, and manage business operations.

We want all of Delaware’s farms to have access to this type of technology. Expanding access to high-speed broadband is essential for Delaware’s agriculture sector to remain competitive.



Here’s how we plan to expand high-speed broadband access in Delaware:

In August, we will release a request for proposals (RFP) to develop partnerships that will improve broadband availability in rural areas throughout Delaware by creating opportunity for the private sector to develop and offer that service. [AUGUST UPDATE: Click here to view RFP.]
Through this RFP and subsequent partnerships, the State will focus on enabling service to homes and businesses where broadband service is not readily available, particularly in rural Kent and Sussex Counties.

Delaware will also prioritize low-cost services for lower income families to enable them to take full advantage of the internet, meeting needs that range from applying for jobs to completing homework assignments.

We will make funds available through a rural broadband grant program to reduce barriers to market entry for private sector providers, and to further attract private investment.

This is about increasing opportunity for all Delawareans - and making sure that no one in our state is left behind because they don’t have adequate access to technology.

We are building on earlier work across our state that has achieved results. Delaware has worked diligently to expand broadband access across the state for several years. Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins has worked with school district leaders to upgrade digital infrastructure and dramatically increase internet speeds in 48 schools statewide - many in areas that are under-served.

As part of the Delaware Department of Technology and Information’s Delaware Broadband Fund Phase Two initiative to promote fixed wireless broadband solutions and reach under-served populations in rural areas, Bloosurf launched a pilot project in the City of Seaford which offered free service to customers within 8 miles of the wireless access points.

That helped Delawareans like Kim Hopkins, a Seaford teacher, who previously had trouble grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and helping her children with their homework because of slow, spotty internet connection.



We have invested in increasing our fiber infrastructure, with the State’s initial financial contribution, resulting in over $30 million in private investment and 700 miles of fiber.

Delaware’s existing broadband “backbone” features high capacity fiber-optic lines that run the length of the state from Wilmington to Georgetown, and from Seaford to Lewes, improving internet reliability for consumers and increasing internet access speeds by as much as 10 times since 2009.

“We live in an amazing time where technology provides us unprecedented access to information and the ability to collaborate - high-speed broadband is key to that connectivity. Without broadband, we wouldn’t be talking about emerging technologies like the ‘Internet of Things’ or the many cloud-based services available because they wouldn’t exist. It is imperative we continue the work to bridge the digital divide because access to technology levels the playing field. In today’s connected world, broadband access is necessary for the success of our students, communities and businesses. Our hope is that high-speed broadband will become as accessible as electricity for all Delawareans.” - Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins

Thanks in large part to these efforts, Delaware continuously ranks at, or near, the top of broadband speed rankings across the nation. Yet, we still face the same challenges as many other states when it comes to access and affordability, especially in our rural areas where broadband deserts still exist.

Over the next two years, we will directly confront this issue, eliminate those deserts, and make high-speed internet a reality for all Delawareans. That will help all Delawareans connect and compete in a new economy, and help move our entire state forward.