CCDC team advances to national championship

For the second year in a row, The University of Tulsa has won the Southwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and will vie for the national title in Texas next month. This year’s regional event was hosted on TU’s campus March 17-19.

TU’s computer science and computer information systems students competed against seven other teams from five states in a marathon of cyber defense operations. Participants were challenged to protect business systems from outside hackers using their managing, configuration and security network skills. Students created and defended applications such as email servers, websites and Wifi hotspots.

“These are the skills students are going to practice in real life as they enter the workforce in government or the private sector,” said TU Computer Science Professor John Hale.

CIS senior Ashley Etter enjoyed researching upgrade solutions for telematics systems and presenting the findings to her team’s company CEO during the competition.

collegiate cyber defense“This competition allowed me to prepare for my career through teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and professionalism,” she said.

In 2016, TU placed fourth at nationals. Computer science senior Thomas Shaw said this year’s addition of two CIS teammates, Etter and senior Jenna Waters, proved invaluable for writing policies, talking to “management” and giving presentations.

“They were a huge part of our win, and I feel their skills will give us an edge at nationals,” he said.

Shaw said his previous experience competing at the national level prepared him for the stressful scenarios this year. He hopes to diversify his skillset with *nix machines and learn more about Windows Server and BSD networking. After Shaw earns his degree, he’s considering applying to the Southwest Power Pool in Little Rock, Arkansas. He interned on the company’s cybersecurity team in 2016 and plans to return for a second internship this summer.

Waters also said the skills required for CCDC events are ideal for managing fast-paced careers.

“It’s really intense, so it’s definitely an experience students can use when they find employment somewhere or get a PhD to do research,” she said.

TU will take on nine other regional winners at the National CCDC April 13-15, 2017, in San Antonio. Team members include graduate student and co-captain Kyle Cook, senior and co-captain Michael Frohlich, graduate student J.T. Hamrick, senior Michael Kinealy, Jenna Waters, Etter, Shaw and freshman Shay Taylor. Faculty adviser is Tyler Moore, Tandy Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity.

“When we all come together, we bring out the best in each other and can accomplish anything,” Taylor said. “I have a lot of faith in us to tackle nationals head on and come out victorious.”