Tennessee Tech’s CEROC hosts CPTC Central Region Competition for the First Time

For Immediate Release
Contact:  Eric Brown, elbrown@tntech.edu, 931-372-3519

Cookeville, TN – The Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) at Tennessee Tech University hosted the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition – Central Region on October 12-13, 2019.  This represents the third year that Tennessee Tech has participated in the event and the first year to host the regional competition. The winning team from this region will join the winners from the North, North East, South East, and Western regions as well as from Dubai to compete in the national competition. Four additional teams will be selected at large to compete in the national competition.

Coaches meeting at CPTC Central Region Competition

Competing in the Central Region in addition to Tennessee Tech are the Air Force Academy, Dakota State, North Dakota State University, Southern Methodist University, University of Northern Iowa, University of Texas – San Antonio, and University of Tulsa. IBM served as the national sponsor for the event. Local sponsors for the Central Region include Cisco Systems, HCA, SAIC, and the Women in Cybersecurity Organization with HP/Aruba serving as the coffee sponsor. “We are excited to be selected as the host site for this regional competition. CEROC hosts a number of outreach events throughout the year. We enjoy events like this where we can meet with our peer institutions,” said Dr. Ambareen Siraj, CEROC’s director.

Tennessee Tech team members hard at work

As described by the organization, “The Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) provides a vehicle for up and coming cybersecurity student teams to build and hone the skills required to effectively discover, triage, and mitigate critical security vulnerabilities. This competition is unique in offering a simulated environment that mimics real world networks. The competition focuses on improving the security posture of a fictitious organization and reporting on risks in a manner that is similar to a real professional environment.” 

The competition incorporates skill sets involving the use of technology, accurate communication, and effective collaboration. Lucas Morris, a CPTC director serving at the Tennessee Tech site, said “there is nothing more exciting than to watch people grow. In my 14 years of serving in security consulting leadership, the biggest challenge for most new professionals is not deep technical skills, but soft skills. Competitions like these help participants to develop those important soft skill sets and prepare them for their future career in the cybersecurity sector. An individual who is passionate about education and has the ability to communicate is incredibly valuable.”

Participating in this year’s Tennessee Tech team are Connor Gannon, Max Layer, Sam Neel, Andrew McDole, Austin Tice, and Will Johnson (team captain).  Travis Lee, cybersecurity technologist with CEROC, served as the team coach as well as handling technology logistics for the event.  Eric Brown, assistant director for CEROC, noted “This group is just another example of the high-quality, student professionals which enrich our center’s work.  We are very proud of their accomplishments both in achievement and professional growth.”

CEROC (https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc) is a NSA-designated Center ofAcademic Excellence – Cyber Defense and a CyberCorps SFS participating school since December 2015.  Located in the College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech, CEROC offers a wide variety of services and programs across the pillars of education, research and outreach.  Dr. Ambareen Siraj is the founding director of the center who leads its education, research, and outreach activities.  Dr. Siraj is also the founder of the Women in Cybersecurity conference and organization (https://www.wicys.org/).

More information about the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition can be found at https://nationalcptc.org. More information about the Central Region Competition can be found at https://www.tntech.edu/ceroc/outreach/cptc/.