OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – Normally hacking isn’t a good thing, but on Wednesday afternoon it helped some high school students get excited about careers in cybersecurity.

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh hosted its inaugural cyber invader hackathon at Reeve Union. High school students from 10 different schools from around the state participated.

It’s all part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

“I think it’s really cool that I can come to school and be motivated to do what I like doing,” said a junior at Case High School in Racine Rastko Marinkovic.

“After getting some hands-on experience I’m even more confirmed that I want to go into stuff with computers,” said Muhammad Hammad also a junior at Case High School in Racine.

Throughout the day, students got to learn about the day-to-day of being cybersecurity professionals from those working in the industry. They also get hands-on training with a fun game called capture the flag where they must find flags hidden inside a vulnerable computer program.

Organizers said they want to also show students that a cybersecurity career pays well and there’s lots of demand in this field.

“So often we think about cybersecurity and it sounds super high tech and super technical, it’s only for people who work for the Microsoft’s, Googles, and Cisco’s of the world, when in reality there are thousands of jobs not just here in Wisconsin, but right here in the Valley,” said UWO Cyber Security Center of Excellence director Michael Patton.

Patton said these skills are important to learn regardless of what career you pursue because anybody could become the victim of a cyber attack.

“There are two types of organizations, those that have been hacked and those who don’t know that they have been hacked,” said Patton. “We need to get everybody’s cyber levels elevated.”

The Wisconsin Cyber Threat Response Alliance and Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction collaborated with UW Oshkosh to make this event possible.

“It’s amazing when we tell them that they get to hack stuff,” said Patton. “Their eyes light up.”