Wyoming Teams Compete in Cyber Challenge

Wyoming Teams Compete in Cyber Challenge

Thanks SO MUCH to the Wyoming Department of Education for paying for the challenge’s registration fees!

On October 21, the Wyoming Department of Education and CyberWyoming Alliance teamed up to sponsor 5 teams in the MAGIC (Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Conservatory) challenge of virtual cybersecurity puzzles. 

Of those five teams, one reached the top 10, Casper College’s ThunderBytes team placed eighth.

“It is exciting to have teams participating at the national level and to have a finish in the top 10 teams nationwide. Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing industry sector that Wyoming is preparing students to enter through opportunities like this. We are so fortunate to have CyberWyoming and Wyoming business and industry partners working on behalf of Wyoming students,” said Dr. Michelle Aldrich, Wyoming Department of Education Career & Technical Education Director.

In the nationwide 73 team challenge, other Wyoming teams placed 13th (a second Casper College team called the GigaBirds), 14th (Code Ninjas of Casper Ninja Crew 1), and 16th (Code Ninjas of Casper Ninja Crew 2).

Back row, team ThunderBytes Ben Watts – Alum of Casper College, current student at UW Madalyn Amole – BOCES student at Casper College Front Row, team GigaBirds Amie Murphy – non traditional freshman Casper College student coming back to either study computer science or cybersecurity Eric Crouse – Casper College sophomore triple major in cybersecurity, computer science, and graphical information systems Tyler Pacheco – Casper College sophomore major in computer science

“We all had a blast at the CTF (capture the flag)! I think we are getting better at this competition just by spending a bit of time learning about some topics ahead of time and by doing the competition itself,” said Charlotte Gruner, Casper College CTF Mentor. Casper College had 2 students participating for the first time and 3 who completed the same event last April, including one student who was studying at UW, but asked if he could join a Casper College team.

Code Ninjas Crew 2 team captain Phebe Z who netted the most points amongst all the Code Ninjas at 2065.

Notably, the Code Ninjas improved their standing from the same event in April where they placed 15th and 18th. Results can be viewed here: https://online.ctfmagic.org/scoreboard.

“If we had any chance of being truly competitive, we wouldn’t have been as ‘tutorial’ as we were, but these kids are young.  They learn so much each time they participate.  Even just figuring out what the questions are asking for is a huge learning opportunity,” said Thea True-Wells, Code Ninja Owner.

The cybersecurity challenge is more than a tech learning opportunity.  True-Wells noted that she talked with her club members about the winner, a magnet school.  “I was able to chat with them about those kids probably wanting to win for college applications, just as much as the prizes.  That was a nice connection for them to make as I’m not sure that they connected this type of competition with helping them access college,” said True-Wells.

Three Wyoming schools with five teams registered for the event and half of the registrants were young women.  Not only is it a fun and educational morning, but students are provided pizza by the CyberWyoming Alliance and t-shirts by MAGIC.

“How exciting to see students across Wyoming participate in the MAGIC Capture the Flag competition recently and so fitting that in Wyoming, the Equality State, that half of the participants were young women!” said Aldrich.

The challenge was on Saturday, October 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. mountain time.  Up to 4 people were on a team and there were five different levels of puzzles. 

As an example of a puzzle, the team may have downloaded a text file, examined the content, and figured out the puzzle answer.  If the answer is correct than a point value was awarded.

The Wyoming Department of Education paid for the teams registration fees and the CyberWyoming Alliance recruited, organized, and sent pizza to the teams.

Schools and the teacher sponsors provided the classroom with computers for the team of four students, along with a local mentor.  The mentor could be a technology professional or teacher that already works for the school or from a local business.  Students were encouraged to work on each puzzle as a team, consulting the mentor(s) if they get stuck.

About the CyberWyoming Alliance

The CyberWyoming Alliance is a statewide, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Laramie whose mission is to increase cybersecurity awareness, education, and outreach in communities across the State of Wyoming. Information can be found at www.cyberwyoming.org/alliance or info@cyberwyoming.org.

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