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Baldwin Wallace Cyber Security Team triumphs at Midwest CCDC Regionals

BW's regional champion CyberSecurity team, left to right, Joshua Bell '21, Joshua Neubecker '20, Amanda Illig '19, Jonathan Cartwright ‘16, MBA '19, Meredith Kasper '19, Jacob Jolley '20, Chris Midkiff '19, Ian Walton '20 and coach Kenneth Atchinson

The Baldwin Wallace University Cyber Security Team is one of just ten teams in the country headed to the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) after claiming first place at the Midwest regionals.

This is BW's highest finish at the Erich J. Spenger Midwest Regional Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) regional qualifier, and it will be the team's first ever appearance at the national competition.

NCCDC 2019 competition bracketA record number of 70 Midwest teams competed on the road at regionals in Chicago, where BW's cyber warriors were pitted against skilled students from two-year and four-year colleges and universities in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri and Wisconsin. BW "CyberSec" claimed the win after qualifying as a wildcard team at the state level.

"I am highly excited about our first place regional finish," said professor Kenneth Atchinson, who coaches the team. "We've had some great teams in the past, but this year's team gelled in all areas - technical, soft skills and communication - which got us the win!"

Real World Challenges

Atchinson started the BW CyberSec team in 2009 as a way to give students real-world experience. "The classroom can only give a student a portion of what they need to be successful," Atchinson says. "Extracurricular activities like CCDC and National Cyber League augment course skills with real-world challenges."

The pressure cooker contest requires tech-savvy students to defend a mock production business infrastructure from professional "hackers" who attempt to breach their security.

At the same time students are fending off "hackers," the judges throw in network enhancement tasks and upgrade challenges. Each team is judged and scored on their responses and successes.

Beyond 'Hack and Defend'

Corporate sponsor Raytheon Tweeted out congratulations to BW.The CCDC touts the experience as close to the real world of cyber security that awaits these future graduates.

"Unlike traditional 'hack and defend' or 'capture the flag' contests," the CCDC website explains, "this competition tests each team's ability to operate, secure, manage, and maintain a corporate network. This competition is the first to create, as closely as possible, a realistic corporate administration and security experience - giving the competitors a chance to compare their education and training against their peers and the real world challenges that await them."

The Baldwin Wallace team is now headed on to the NCCDC in Orlando, Florida, in late April.

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