Sept. 21, 2023

NDSU team wins Cyber Cup 


For the second year in a row, an NDSU team won the Cyber Cup competition and the National Cyber Summit.  A team of NDSU students took first place in the academic division at the competition in Huntsville, Alabama.   

The NDSU team was comprised of students Gavin Kestner, Joshua Heeren, Keaton Hasse and Neal Buerman, who are all studying computer science.  Several dozen teams competed across the academic and industry competition divisions. 

"I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that NDSU has given me and my fellow students to participate in and attend various conferences,” said Kestner.  "Since we were new to blue team cyber competitions, I had my doubts about how well our team would perform. But we quickly adapted and honed our skills." 

The competition took place over two days. During the first day, the teams had seven-and-a-half hours to score as many points as possible to win one of four slots to go on to day two.  The second day was a ninety-minute competition among the finalists.  The problems required teams to demonstrate log analysis and other cybersecurity skills. Problem-solving abilities also were required. 

"This was my first time competing in a blue team cyber event and I had no idea what to anticipate. It turned out to be an amazing learning experience," said Heeren. "At the beginning of the competition winning was a dream. I was excited to learn and as we progressed through the challenges, we made that dream a reality. Competing in the NCS Cyber Cup was an amazing experience. I learned a lot of technical skills that I will use in my career in cybersecurity. " 

This is NDSU’s fourth year competing in the National Cyber Summit’s Cyber Cup competition. The team took second place in the competition, previously, in 2019 and first place in 2022. 

NDSU students compete in multiple cybersecurity competitions each year. The competitions provide an opportunity for the students to develop and demonstrate their skills in career-relevant areas. The competitions are watched by prospective employers who recruit top cyber talent.  Students prepare for the competitions through independent peer learning activities as well as coursework. 

“The cyber cup competition is an excellent opportunity for students to demonstrate their cybersecurity skills,” said Jeremy Straub, director of the NDSU Cybersecurity Institute and associate professor of computer science. Straub also mentors the cybersecurity competition teams. “The competitions are exciting for students, incredible learning experiences, and they are also a key area of interest amongst employers who are trying to identify the best and the brightest to hire for their firms.” 

The students won a $3,000 prize for their first-place finish.  

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