More than 100 students from 10 colleges and local high schools will be competing in the Central New York Hackathon cybersecurity competition today and Saturday at Utica College.
For the event, from 4-9 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday in the college’s library concourse, students will test their skills against professionals by working on real-world scenarios in real time, such as protecting a corporate network from attacks.
The competition is held toward the end of each fall and spring semester, alternating between Utica College and Mohawk Valley Community College.
In its sixth year, the event is designed to improve the state of computer science and cybersecurity education, plus more closely align academia with Central New York industry partners, said Utica College.
Among competing schools: Clarkson University, Hamilton College, Herkimer College, Le Moyne College, MVCC, Morrisville State College, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Syracuse University and Utica College.
Students will “work in teams, attempting to penetrate a target to take control or defend their systems from attackers,” said Utica College. Participating cybersecurity professionals volunteer their time and try to break into students’ networks, while students work on keeping them out by using skills they learned in the classroom.
“A lot of these students are gaining interest in the security field because it is a hot topic right now,” said Assistant Professor of Computer Science Ronny Bull. The event “gives them a real hands-on approach that they are not getting in the classroom. It gives them an extracurricular activity that they can do to help build their skills and build their resume.”
Bull added the event’s “real importance...is that it takes a student who has been academically learning all this stuff, puts them through the paces that helps them transition to the real world. It also has this whole subset of professionals who are looking to cherry-pick these students for positions.”
There also will be a job fair dedicated to the students at the Hackathon on Saturday, with major employers including Amazon.