Padua’s CyberPatriots Win Seventh Straight State Title in National Competition

L to r: Amneris Romero-Martinez ’23, Daisy Bartholomew ’20, Madeline Dickerson ’21, Melina Trautman ’20, Sara Stoupa ’20, Elizabeth Trujillo ’22

Students from Padua Academy recently proved once again that they possess some of the highest levels of critical thinking and technical skills necessary for careers in cybersecurity. Padua’s CyberPatriots took home their seventh straight state title at the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition.

The all-female coding team won 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the state competition in December and made it to the semi-final round at the national contest, ultimately placing 165th out of 1,200 qualifying teams.

The Padua CyberPatriot state champions are:

Melina Trautman (Captain) ‘20
Sara Stoupa ‘20
Daisy Bartholomew ‘20
Madeline Dickerson ‘21
Elizabeth Trujillo ‘22

Amneris Romero-Martinez ‘23

Established by Air Force Association in 2009, CyberPatriot is designed to educate and motivate students toward careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. 


At the core of the program is the nation’s largest cyber defense competition that puts students in charge of securing virtual networks.

Team captain Melina Trautman said her experience with the team has been invaluable to her as a student at Padua. “While this was my last year competing, the endless amounts of food and frustration at CyberPatriot Saturdays is something I will not forget,” said Trautman. “While being on the team has certainly come with many sessions of head-banging and tirelessly staring at the computer screen, the program has instilled in me both a great love of cybersecurity as well as the virtue of patience.”

Led by Coach Fred Stinchcombe, the team of Padua students managed a school highest score on one particular challenge and excelled in virtually all competitions at the state competition. They also competed at the highest “Platinum” level throughout the contest.


“It’s been another great year for the Cyber Pandas,” said Stinchcombe, who is the Information Technology department chair at Padua. “The girls performed fantastically. As a young person, you learn really quickly that to win, you need to engage in teamwork and creative thinking. It supplies so many life lessons that just can’t be taught within the confines of a classroom setting,” he said.

The main goal of every round of competition is to improve the security of one or more virtual machine images. In the past, teams have been tasked with maintaining and hardening critical services, fixing vulnerabilities, and removing malware from the systems.
Teams start with basic networking and security concepts, and more advanced concepts are added as teams progress in the competition. Networking challenges include:
  • Virtual Network Configuration 
  • Subnetting and IP Addressing 
  • Wireless Routing

“I’m especially enthusiastic about the number of freshman and sophomores on the team it bodes for a bright future,” said Coach Stinchcombe.

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About the Contributor

Christy Fleming

Christy Fleming

The managing editor of, Christy Fleming also supports a variety of non-profit initiatives in Delaware. Her background includes positions in public relations, advertising and journalism.