MVCC, partner Cyber Florida complete first year of NCAE Cyber Games

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This past weekend, Mohawk Valley Community College and its partners at the University of South Florida held the National Final for the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Cyber Games, a unique national collegiate cybersecurity competition for first-time participants that recognizes the full spectrum of skills needed in the field.

The National Final on April 9 was the exciting culmination of the inaugural year of the NCAE Cyber Games, developed collaboratively by MVCC and Cyber Florida at USF to make cybersecurity competitions more accessible to entry-level students and those who have been underrepresented in the cyber competition space.

The two colleges were selected to lead the project in late 2020, building upon MVCC’s previous work in developing the CNY Hackathon and leveraging USF’s Florida CyberHub for national scalability.

“It’s been a couple of years of really hard — and also fun — work to get to this point,” said Jake Mihevc, dean of MVCC’s School of STEM – transfer programs.

“We’ve had about 500 students from across the country compete from 55 different colleges, so to arrive at the National Finals, it’s a lot of fun for the team, and it’s fun for us to all be in one place working together,” Mihevc added.

In the first year, about 500 students from 55 colleges across the country participated in the program. Regional events took place on Saturdays throughout February and March, with the winners advancing to the National Final in April. National finalists included Kennesaw State University, University of Denver, Syracuse University, University of Rhode Island, Eastern Washington University, University of Tulsa, Liberty University, University of Central Florida, Brigham Young University, and Illinois Institute of Technology. Illinois was crowned the National Champion with a record-breaking score of 5,154 points.

The National Final featured a livestream produced by MVCC and USF’s eSports Program that included visualizations of the technical components, video feeds from each student and staff team area, interviews with students and staff, and commentary by MVCC Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity James Rice and USF eSports Program Assistant and Caster John Turbessi. It is viewable at this link: twitch.tv/videos/1451369049.

Cyber competitions are an excellent way for students to gain hands-on experience and explore the different roles available in the cybersecurity field, yet they can be intimidating for someone who has never competed.

NCAE Cyber Games aims to increase the number of faculty and students participating in the cybersecurity community by looking beyond traditional technical disciplines and providing the resources needed to initiate and provide a positive experience for newcomers to the field.

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