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Success at Operation ExxonMobil: The Cyber Heist

A graphic with a room in the CASN logo colors that states "Escape from CTEC/Operation Exxon : The Cyber Heist/Read all about it on our blog!" with logos for CTEC, ExxonMobil, and CASN on the bottom.

A group of 40 high school interns at ExxonMobil recently embarked on an exhilarating STEM escape room challenge at the East Baton Rouge Parish Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) on Thursday, June 13, 2024. This unique event was designed to engage the interns in hands-on learning experiences across various STEM disciplines, culminating in a high-stakes cybersecurity challenge.

The escape room featured different stations focusing on skills in instrumentation, electrical work, process technology, automotive mechanics, and mathematics. Each challenge was intricately designed to provide clues for the final cybersecurity task. The interns were divided into five groups of eight, each competing to complete the challenges in the shortest time. The ultimate goal was to decode the identity of the hacker who had breached the system.

The day started with a 15-minute introduction, where the interns were briefed on the mission and objectives of the escape room. They learned about the challenges they would face and the importance of each STEM discipline involved. This was followed by 90 minutes of task execution, where the teams rotated through each challenge. Each task was allotted 15 minutes, with brief transition periods in between. During this phase, the teams collected crucial clues that would later be used in the final cybersecurity challenge.

In the final 25-minute cybersecurity challenge, all teams converged to piece together the clues they had gathered. This task involved tackling various cybersecurity threats such as phishing, social engineering, and analyzing clues within emails. The first team to solve the final cipher and identify the hacker emerged victorious. Additionally, individual performances were assessed based on the shortest time of completion for each station's activities.

The event concluded with a debriefing session, where all teams gathered to reflect on their experiences. The winning team was announced, along with the individual who had the best overall performance. The interns discussed their key takeaways, emphasizing the importance of teamwork, problem-solving, and practical application of STEM knowledge. This successful event not only provided the interns with valuable skills but also highlighted the exciting possibilities within the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.