May 1, 2017
For the second year running, BYU IT students have ranked in the nation’s top three cyber defense teams. As the only gender balanced CCDC team in the USA, these eight students are setting new trends. "After coming second in the 2016 Nationals, I think the team really felt the pressure this year," said Dr. Dale Rowe, IT Professor and coach of the BYU team.
Once again, the team came clothed in their team t-shirts and hoodies, each emblazoned on the back with their own ‘hacker alias’. With four team-members carrying over from 2016, four new members took the weight on their shoulders. "All of our team members get along with each other," said team member Cara Cornel. "If we didn’t have that good relationship, our communication would really suffer. Because we knew each other and all worked and practiced together, we were really able to perform well."
Keeping a team in the top three is not easy. BYU were the only team out of last year’s top three to come back to Nationals in 2017. While UCF held the first place National title from 2014-2016, they were replaced by the University of Southern Alabama this year. "It’s hard to keep good talent in student teams. Competitors are snapped up by organizations desperate to get the best skillsets on their cybersecurity teams" said Dr. Rowe, "you can do great one year and then have to rebuild the team from scratch the next." BYU’s CCDC record nevertheless remains impressive, with 11 top-three victories since their first competition in 2012.
Participating team members include: Trent Bennet (IT Senior), Cara Cornel (IT Junior), Jacob Crowther (IT Senior), Sarah Cunha (IT MS Candidate), Haley Dennis (IT Senior), Hans Farnbach (IT Junior, Captain), Kaylee Hill (IT Sophomore) and Chandler Newby (IT Graduate Student)
The BYU Information Technology program is the designated program for BYU’s status as an NSA/DHS Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. Security is taught across the curriculum and students receive an education in a variety of cybersecurity domains. The program has been ABET accredited since 2004.
The BYU Cybersecurity Research Laboratory is a mostly undergraduate research laboratory of 8 women and 5 men (2017) who work on a variety of research and outreach projects.
Women make up less than 20% of the cybersecurity workforce, and despite recent research reports showing the benefits of mixed cybersecurity teams, the gap between men and women in the field is widening.
Dr. Rowe is an Associate Professor in the IT program and Director of the CSRL. He has coached CCDC teams since 2012. With his students they have published numerous articles in peer reviewed conferences and journals across 4 continents since 2011.