Cybersecurity Team Advances to National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition
Cybersecurity students practice real-world scenarios for upcoming competition. (Photo: Courtesy of Prof. John Watkins)
WCC’s own Cybersecurity team has had an impressive run, and has become the first community college in the northeast to qualify for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Remarkably, the team beat out several notable institutions, such as Harvard, NYU, and Columbia.
The competition itself is one that attempts to recreate a real life cyber security environment where a “blue team,” which is in the role of a school, attempts to maintain a web server, send reports, and repel attacks that come from the “red team,” who simulate hackers. The red team are made up of various professionals in the cyber security industry.
“I said to the other coaches, ‘you guys are lucky, you have your team for four years, I only have mine for two,’” said John Watkins, the coach of the team, as well as the cybersecurity curriculum chair. “I am so impressed with these guys. They put to shame some IT operations around the world.”
Watkins also said that he is very proud of his team and what they have accomplished.
This is not the first time the team has made it this far in the competition. In 2016, the team made it to the regionals. Now the team is confident in their ability for this round.
Despite only being two returning members from that team, the team captain, the returning member Daniel Barr, is not worried.
“I was confident in these guys ability going in,” said Barr. “For me i think we have a better team than last year, we’re more prepared.”
The team now has a better idea of what the competition entails and seem very confident going into the next round.
It is interesting to consider the idea that a two-year community college is going up against traditional four-year schools. Perhaps is the method that WCC’s Cybersecurity programs uses that leads to the teams’ success. The Cybersecurity program emphasizes hands-on learning.
“Our classes became hands on classes that include a lecture and a hands on lab based on what companies hire for the IT field,” Watkins said.
It is this hands-on approach that really give an edge to students who want to find work in the field. In addition to the training, Cybersecurity graduates will also receive multiple IT certifications during their coursework. Many schools offer only programs in computer science and not necessarily the same type of hands on practice that gives people such as the WCC team the edge necessary.
“Computer Science in its nature is more software based,” said team member Alex Ceremisinovs. “But cybersecurity teaches you alot more about hardware and how to assess problems.”
With such an impressive performance by the team, it’s hard to deny the effectiveness of WCC’s program. The CCDC regionals will be held in March.