BW Cyber Defense Team

Tech-savvy students succeed in state, regional and national cyber defense competitions.

BW Cyber Defense Team wraps up another winning year

May 16, 2017

BW Cyber Defense Team The Baldwin Wallace University Cyber Defense Team scored impressive showings in state, regional and national competitions this year including a top place in the National Cyber League (NCL) National Championship and another first place in the Ohio Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

Highest ever placement

At the end of the semester, graduate student Jonathan Cartwright, seniors Dan Jesensky and Michael Martin, sophomore Meredith (Ivy) Kasper and freshman Ian Walton won first place in the silver bracket and fifth place overall in the postseason NCL National Championship.

"The first-place win was their highest ever," said Kenneth Atchinson, associate professor of math and computer science and Cyber Defense Team coach. "I am certain that our earlier participation in CCDC was a big factor in our win, since the team had experience in problem solving, troubleshooting and working as a team."

Photo of NCL competition Cyber Defense Team (l to r) Coach Kenneth Atchinson, Dan Jesensky, Meredith (Ivy) Kasper, Ian Walton, John Cartwright, Mike MartinThe "capture the flag" competition had students compete individually and as a team to find flags using their knowledge of cryptography, access exploitation and more.

"It was an awesome experience and I am very proud of our results," Kasper said.

"As a freshman, I was excited to discover this opportunity at BW to develop my computer security potential. I'm looking forward to future competitions," added Walton.

Best in Ohio five years running

Earlier in the year, the team won first place in the Ohio Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) for the fifth year in a row. The spring 2017 semester win also marks the seventh victory overall.

The tech-savvy students then competed in the Midwest Regional CCDC in Chicago, finishing in the "middle of the pack" of 10 schools. While the focus of this competition was on managing and protecting a commercial network, students also networked with industry professionals who are always looking for up and coming engineers.

Defending the Infrastructure

The Ohio CCDC qualifier mimicked a real-world scenario where the information technology staff was fired and the student teams were hired to replace them. Students then worked to assume control of the computer network, remove or mitigate vulnerabilities, and secure systems.

Photo of Cyber Defense Team during the postseason NCL National ChampionshipDuring the eight-hour competition, the judges also issued 37 tasks the students had to complete, such as generating reports, installing software or applying policies, while a professional team of hackers attacked them by stealing data or taking their systems down.

Dedicated Team Members

The 2016-17 CCDC Cyber Defense Team, John Blainer, Ted Waddell, Andrew Wilhelm, Cartwright, Jesensky, Kasper, Martin and Walton, "worked well as a team" and "did a lot of things right" according to CCDC judges. Team alternates included John Kolakowski, Kris Lioi, Kristina Powell and Kurt Wolfe.

The judges were also impressed with the team’s ability to come up with unique solutions to the problems they encountered.

"Our team performed remarkably," Cartwright said. "The challenges were great and we met them."

The team’s spring performance follows an impressive showing at the 2016 National Cyber League (NCL) Championship during the fall semester.

"It is hard to develop and keep a team, and even harder to win competitions," Atchinson said. "It speaks to the dedication of the students, the strength of the computer network security program, and the support of the BW community that we continue to compete and do well."

While the competitions focus on computer network security, the team includes computer information systems and software engineering majors as well.