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BW builds cybersecurity reputation as host of Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition

Whether they're simulating hackers or defending against them, BW's cyber warriors are gaining invaluable, real-world experience while helping to put BW on the cybersecurity education map.

BW students work to hack a simulated company website during the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) hosted at BW’s Knowlton Center.

In competition after competition, year after year, Baldwin Wallace University has earned a reputation as a fierce competitor in a range of cybersecurity competitions that simulate real-world hack and defend scenarios.

This year, BW added "competition site" to its cybersecurity resume, hosting the Great Lakes Regional Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) over the fall break weekend.

Kenneth Atchinson, associate professor of computer science, says being chosen to host a major competition further "puts BW on the map as one of the Midwest powerhouses in cybersecurity education."

Experience second to none

Ryan Kazubski ’23 competes at the Midwest Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC).

Since Atchinson started the BW CyberSec team in 2009 as a way to give students real-world experience, the BW team has won many cybersecurity trophies.

Among the many achievements, BW was one of 10 teams in the country to make the finals of the elite National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) in 2019, after making the CPTC national finals the prior year.

Heading into the 2022 Great Lakes CPTC, held at BW's state-of-the-art Knowlton Center, Ryan Kazubski '23 noted, "The competitions here and the experience I gain from them is next to none. I learn so much that I wouldn't learn anywhere else."

While coursework provides a firm foundation, students say the competition offers experiences that mirror how they will operate once they enter the business sector.

Two sides of cybersecurity

BW hosted the fall 2022 Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition at the Knowlton Center

Jonathan Gavris '23 agrees the cybersec competitions present one of the biggest advantages to a BW education, "since they give experience in both sides of the field," testing systems for vulnerabilities to hackers and defending systems from the same.

"Considering we have probably the best program in the state for cybersecurity, that was [the] number one [reason I chose BW]," Gavris adds. "Also, the people and the professors here are just phenomenal in this field."

Top faculty, scholarships and jobs

In fact, Atchinson, who coaches the BW Cyber Defense Team, was named the 2020 IT Educator of the Year at the annual Greater Cleveland Partnership Best of Tech Awards.

With high workforce demand and salaries in technology-related fields such as cybersecurity, software engineering and business information systems, as well as Choose Ohio First (COF) scholarships available to students studying computer science and related subjects at BW, Atchison says there's never been a better time to enroll.

See and hear more about how BW cybersecurity competes in this video from the fall 2022 CPTC.

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