A team of NDSU students took first place in the academic division at the National Cyber Summit’s Cyber Cup cybersecurity competition. The competition brought teams from across the country to Huntsville, Alabama, where they demonstrated their cybersecurity prowess to solve a series of challenges.
The NDSU team was comprised of students Cameron Kolodjski, Cayden Schmandt, Jack Hance and Jonathan Rivard, who are all studying computer science. Nearly 40 teams competed across the academic and industry teams competition divisions.
“I’m really proud of us as a team. We’ve come a long way since I was a freshman,” said Schmandt. “I’m very thankful for the experience that NDSU and the Cybersecurity Student Association has provided for me as I’ve been working towards my degree and to build my skillset.”
The competition took place over two days. During the first day, the teams had 10 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 four-hour competition among the finalists.
The problems required teams to demonstrate ethical hacking cybersecurity skills. Problem-solving abilities also were required.
“I was glad to experience a CTF competition with professional teams,” Rivard said. “The questions were a lot harder and I learned a lot.”
This is NDSU’s third year competing in the National Cyber Summit’s Cyber Cup competition. The team took second place in the competition, previously, in 2019.
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.
“After the competition, students – and even one or two professionals – came up to the students on the team to ask questions about how they prepared for the competition,” said Jeremy Straub, director of the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research and assistant professor of computer science. Straub also mentors the cybersecurity competition teams. “Several prospective employers came up and handed cards to all four of the students, actively recruiting them. It’s clear that these competitions are actively watched by companies as a way to scout out the top cybersecurity talent.”
The students won a $5,000 prize for their first-place finish.
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