BISMARCK, N.D. – For the second year in a row, a combined cybersecurity team of six Bismarck State College and two University of Mary students placed third in the North Central Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) held during the DakotaCon cybersecurity conference at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D.

Dakota State University and Kansas State University placed first and second respectively.

Cyber Security Team from BSC/UMary compete together at regional competition

The BSC/UMary team was made up of BSC students Ian Johnson (Bismarck, ND), Jacob Langerud (Bismarck, ND), Jared Phelps (Wilton, ND), Austin Haakenson (Cleveland, ND), Justin Johnson (Mandan, ND) and Nicholas Everitt (Bismarck, ND), and UMary students Stephen Feldpausch (Bath, MI.) and Evan Gowen (Bismarck, ND). Team advisors were BSC Associate Professor of CIS Matthew Frohlich, UMary Program Director for Computer Science, Computer Information Systems and Information Technology Management Dr. Kevin Fishbeck, North Dakota Highway Patrol Computer & Information Specialist Tanya Taplin and North Dakota Information Technology Department IT Systems Administrator Tony Aukland.

“The BSC/UMary partnership works really well because UMary brings upperclassman leadership and BSC brings the technical experience on the firewall strengthened by our partnership with Palo Alto Networks. It gives each school’s students an opportunity to use their strengths and come together as a team, just like you would when working in the field,” says Frohlich.

Faculty from BSC, UMary and Information Technology workers from the State of North Dakota volunteered their time over the spring semester to help train the students for the competition.The two-day competition focused on operational aspects of managing, securing and defending commercial network infrastructures. Students tested their knowledge in a realistic network and operations environment.

BSC/UMary Cyber Security Team poses for photo at regional competition

“Students who participate in the competition are unaware of the challenges they will face over an eight-hour period of trying to keep server services up and running,” says Dr. Fishbeck, program director for University of Mary’s Computer Sciences. “Students quickly find out the skills that will be required of them in the cyber security workforce to enable them to be effective in their workplace. The competition reinforces much of the curriculum that is being taught in the cyber security programs. I am most proud of our students who have the courage to put themselves out there to compete while not knowing how or when their services will be attacked and possibly compromised. In the end, our students bring the ethical approach to their learning and are helping the cyber-world become a safer place.”

Participating in competitions such as the CCDC aligns with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s “K-20W Initiative.” K-20W, which stands for “kindergarten through Ph.D. and workforce,” is a collaborative effort with more than 40 public and private sector partners who are advancing statewide efforts to provide computer science and cybersecurity training and resources to North Dakota’s educators and students.

“Cybersecurity is a priority for our state, and actively supporting students in K-12 and higher ed in these kinds of real-world scenarios is a valuable way for them to gain experience and deepen our bench in one of the fastest-growing career fields,” said North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley. “These students are building a strong cybersecurity future for themselves and North Dakota. Kudos to the team and advisors for another top three finish.”