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Student Team Wins Midwest Cyber Defense Competition

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cyber security is a field that more frequently is turning to computer scientists and engineers for solutions to the challenges being faced by companies, financial institutions, and governmental agencies.

Rose-Hulman students have the unique skills to solve these problems, with a team of eight students winning this year's Midwest and Indiana Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions. They're now getting ready for the national competition on April 19-21 in San Antonio, Texas.

A group of individuals stand in a row
Midwest Champions: Rose-Hulman's Cyber Defense Team that has captured Midwest and Indiana competitions includes (front row, from left) Ryne Bell, Sean Richardson, Team Advisor Nadine Shillingford Wondem, Cameron Spry, and Mark Wlodarski,. In the back row (from left) are Matt Fuson, Robert Fendricks and Neil Semmel. (Photo by Chris Minnick)

Over the course of 16 hours at both competitions, the students ensure that all their network services remained operational, despite attacks from teams of cyber defense professionals. This competitive environment assesses students' depth of understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting a corporate network infrastructure and business information systems.

"It's tremendously fun. I love the challenge," says team leader Sean Richardson, a senior majoring in computer engineering. "It is a really good way to apply what you've learned in our classes. It is a real-world situation."

Adding expertise to Rose-Hulman's team is Ryne Bell, a junior software engineering student who earlier placed first among Midwest college students in this fall's National Cyber League. Richardson was second.

"Having a programming background makes you a better security expert," states Bell.

Other team members were seniors Matt Fuson, Parker Schmidt, and Mark Wlodarski; juniors Robert Fendricks and Cameron Spry, and sophomore Neil Semmel.

"We have a strong, experienced, and devoted team," says team advisor Nadine Shillingford Wondem, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering. "The Midwest competition organizers thought our students had superb skills and that they worked great together as a team. One sponsor pointed out that his company is interested in hiring three of the team members."

Richardson has already accepted a job in computer security for Northrop Grumman, while Bell will have a cyber defense summer internship for a U.S. governmental agency.

"Cyber security is a growing field. Students on this team have skills that are going to be in demand by business and government," says Shillingford Wondem.