It is Cyber Competition Time in Tennessee

(contact, (931) 372-3519 for more information)
October 27, 2021

COOKEVILLE, TN – It is that time of year.  Leaves are changing color; the days are getting cooler; pumpkins are making their appearances around the area; and cyber competitions are in full swing.  Tennessee Tech Computer Science students and CyberEagles members have competed in three different competitions over the October 22 – 24, 2021 weekend. A total of 26 students competed in the National Cyber League (NCL) Competition Individual game, Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC), and Social Engineering Capture the Flag Competition (SECTF). There were also several students that competed in more than of these competitions.

Students from Tennessee Tech have always posted a good showing in both the individual and team games of NCL.  In past years, TNTech had a student place third in the nation and several in the top 10% of the individual game nationally.  Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students.  While the Fall 2021 Individual Game stats have not been finalized at this time, history would suggest a strong finish.  During the Spring 2021 competition, TNTech ranked 10th overall in the nation ranking 8th in Teams, 40th in Individuals, and 14th in Participation.  Over 300 colleges and universities across the US participate in NCL.  Full results for the Spring 2021 competition can be found at

Tennessee Tech was honored to host the CPTC United States Central region for the third year and participate in the competition for the fifth year. Like so many other events, COVID-19 has changed the way events are conducted. This year’s event was completely virtual with some participating teams having members working from different locations. It was truly a distributed event. The top winning team from this region will join the winners from the other CPTC regions around the world, which include Canada and the Middle East, for the international competition. Seven additional teams will be selected at large to compete in the international competition.  Participating in this event was team captain Kaitlyn Carroll, Austin Brown, Austin Tice, Jesse Holland, Jacob Sweeten, and John Housley.  Five members of the six-member team were CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (a program funded by the National Science Foundation) students.  The team posted a solid performance.  Dakota State took first place in the region moving to the next round.

This is the second year SECTF has been held. SECTF is hosted by Temple University’s Cybersecurity in Application, Research & Education (CARE) Lab and funded by NSF and sponsored by Google.  This competition challenges undergraduate students to gain first-hand cyberattack and cybersecurity experience by using social engineering prowess in a real-life scenario judged by industry professionals. This scenario focuses on four categories: Open-source intelligence (OSINT), Phishing, Vishing, and Reporting. This is the first year that Tennessee Tech has participated in SECTF, and we are proud to have placed 3rd.  TNTech participants include Mimi Vertrees, Mia Fisher, Hayden Keller, Colin Lafever, and Hallie Sevier.

“These types of competitions provide essential ‘out of classroom’ experiences which these students will need in the upcoming careers” noted Eric Brown, Assistant Director for CEROC. “The successful outcomes of these competition are a unique combination of the incredible students with which we interact every day, an excellent computer science program with the best overall cybersecurity program in the state, and professional growth provided by the peer mentoring opportunities afforded by CEROC. We say it often… our students are the life-blood of our center.”

About Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center

CEROC at Tennessee Tech University, established under the direction of Dr. Ambareen Siraj, is a center of excellence in the College of Engineering focused on K-20 cybersecurity education programs; research in emerging cybersecurity topics; and outreach programs to stakeholders in academia, government and industry.  CEROC is an NSA-designated Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and host of the first and largest CyberCorps SFS program in the State of Tennessee.  CEROC, via Dr. Siraj’s work, is also the founding group for the Women in Cybersecurity initiative, the largest of its type in the world focusing on enhancing diversity within the cybersecurity workforce.  More information about CEROC and its programs can be found at or by sending an email to