Student team wins statewide cyber defense competition

Cybersecurity skills also pay off with fourth place in Midwest regional tournament
​Jerry Poling | April 1, 2022

Nine students from University of Wisconsin-Stout fended off hours of cyberattacks to win a statewide cybersecurity event and place high in the Midwest regional.

Against four other colleges and universities, UW-Stout won the Wisconsin Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition held recently.

Teams were provided mock business networks and had to defend them from eight hours of simulated attacks, or hacks. The attacks were based on real-world events and coordinated by professionals from the cybersecurity field.

The event was a qualifier for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. UW-Stout advanced to the nine-state regional in March; the team finish fourth against nine other state champions and qualifiers. DePaul University won the regional to advance to the national event.

Members of UW-Stout’s team that won the statewide Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition are, from left, Connor Farnworth, Tanner Kowitz, Lee Kottke, Matthew Pomes, Michael Du Mez, Luke Langefels, Vincent Klanderman, Walter Fernandez and Christina Kimball.
Team members, from left, are Connor Farnworth, Tanner Kowitz, Lee Kottke, Matthew Pomes, Michael Du Mez, Luke Langefels, Vincent Klanderman, Walter Fernandez and Christina Kimball. / Contributed photo

Both events were held virtually.

“I am proud of our Stout team for their cyber-savvy skillsets, being able to create a good game plan, and their passion, teamwork, self-discipline, work ethic and knowledge are beyond what we can hope for from any team,” said Professor Holly Yuan, director of the computer networking and information technology undergraduate program.

Team members and their majors are:

Langefels was proud of UW-Stout’s success in both competitions.

“The biggest factors for our victory in the state competition were our technical skills, teamwork, persistence and problem-solving skills. Our proficiency in these categories allowed us to take the lead early on and hold it throughout the competition,” Langefels said. “On top of that, we had our servers, workstations and firewall secured very early on.”

The state event lasted eight hours, while the regional competition was two days, including 12 hours the first day and eight the second.

UW-Stout also won the state event in 2020 and took second place last year.

In the regional, UW-Stout faced teams that have been competing for five or more years and include graduate students. “We managed to beat six of those 10 teams. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I’m very confident that we will make it to nationals next year,” Langefels said.

UW-Stout is a federal Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense, the first in the UW System. The designation helps higher education institutions with computer-related programs prepare the U.S. against cybersecurity threats.

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