UMBC, Naval Academy Win National Cyber Competitions Showing Off Region’s Talent Pool


UMBC Cyber Dawgs (Photo courtesy of Raytheon)Separated by only a 30-minute drive, students and Midshipmen from UMBC and the Naval Academy won two of the most prominent collegiate cybersecurity competitions in the nation this past week.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County Cyber Dawgs won the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition beating out colleges from nine other regions including prominent computer science programs such as the University of Washington, RIT and others.

“We are as excited about the national cyber defense competition as we are about an NCAA athletic competition,” UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski said.

The same week, the U.S. Naval Academy defeated all other service academies in the annual Cyber Defense Exercise, which has been run by the NSA since 2002. That Naval Academy, which boasts the Center for Cyber Security Studies, defeated teams from West Point, the Air Force Academy, the Royal Military College of Canada, and others.

Professionals from the NSA, U.S. Cyber Command and foreign militaries launch attacks during the CDX against the service academy teams. The teams must then complete a host of tasks during the week-long exercise such as protecting a simulated aerial drone from being compromised.

Airmen oversee the Cyber Defense Exercise the U.S. Naval Academy won this year. (Photo by Scoop News Group)

Airmen oversee the Cyber Defense Exercise the U.S. Naval Academy won this year. (Photo by Scoop News Group)

Beyond local school pride, this matters to the growing cybersecurity community because it continues to build the D.C. region’s reputation as a hot bed for cybersecurity talent. When asked why they based their cybersecurity companies in the greater Washington region, many founders say the local talent.

Silicon Valley still has a much deeper pool of investment opportunities and will remain ahead of the D.C. region until some ground is made up in that sector. However, competing for coders and engineers is difficult in the Bay Area.

The universities (UMBC, USNA, George Mason, the University of Maryland, College Park) in the D.C. region developing strong cybersecurity programs and the local intelligence agencies have created this deep talent pool leading to more cyber firms establishing themselves in Maryland and Virginia. In fact, accelerators like DataTribe based themselves in Maryland to help some of the intelligence agency employees establish their own companies.

The victories by the UMBC and the Naval Academy only build on this reputation as the local universities drive a thriving cybersecurity industry in the DMV.

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