Community college student sets sights on national computer competition


Having heard of a competition for students with similar interests, Nathan Rowe has decided to try to put together a team to compete.

Rowe, a computer science major, is very interested in network security and acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this field.

To that end, Rowe has picked up the mantle of the now defunct group, Parkland College Student Computing Solutions. His ambition is put together a team capable of competing in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

The competition, which has come to be known as the CCDC, on its website describes itself by stating, “CCDC is a three day event and the first competition that specifically focuses on the operational aspect of managing and protecting an existing ‘commercial’ network infrastructure.”

Rowe explained the competition by saying, “What you have are students who must maintain both clients and servers on a network and keep essential services running while under attack.”

As companies’ reliance on computer networking increases, the ability to maintain these connections safely becomes crucial. This puts those with the knowledge and skills to ensure this security in an excellent position.

Competitions such as the CCDC help students to stand out in a very competitive field and build relationships with the very companies looking for employees with these skills.

As the CCDC itself puts it, “CCDC not only benefits the students involved, but will also benefit corporations as these graduates will be bringing a more experienced skill set to their jobs upon beginning their employment. CCDC also provides direct feedback for schools to exercise, reinforce, and examine their security and information technology curriculum.”

In Illinois, teams have competed from universities such as DePaul University, Southern Illinois University, Illinois State University and University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana.

Parkland would not be the first community college to enter the competition, however, as in past years teams representing both Moraine Valley Community College and Lake Land College have entered.

The competition itself consists of a number of different teams. Amongst them are the following.

The Gold or Operations Team is comprised of the officials for the competition who manage, run and organize event.

The White Team consists of other officials who observe the competing teams, measuring their performance and adherence to the event rules.

The Red Team plays the role of hackers. Their job is to try to penetrate and gain unauthorized access to the competitors’ systems.

The Black Team provides support to competitors. They offer technical and administrative assistance and provide delivery and pick-up of communications.

The Blue Team or Competition Team is the team made up of an institution’s competitors. Each Blue Team will have of a Team Captain, who provides liaison between his team and the White Team and a Team Co-Captain, who acts as back-up for the Captain.

The team is also required to have a Team representative, which will be a faculty or staff member of the team’s institution which will serve to liaise between the Blue Team and the competition’s officials.

The competition is usually held in April, which would give Rowe and his team a little over a year to prepare. Rowe plans on holding meetings to cover the core topics in small doses over time.

Meetings would focus on topics such as computer networking, cryptography, Linux and Windows systems administration and a host of network penetration tools such as iNmap, airCrack-ng, Nessus and a variety of malware applications.

Rowe stated, “This should be a learning experience for me too. It should be fun.”

The CCDC is the world’s largest college-level cyber defense competition. It is held annually at the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Winning the competition carries the level of prestige for computer science students of that of winning the NCAA tournament in basketball or the BCS championship in football.

Rowe has been getting help facilitating the informational meetings from Jonas Dees, Program Director of the Computer Science and Information Technology.

Rowe now just needs students for the group. If you are interested in joining, you can attend an informational meeting today at noon or 4 p.m. in room B-129.

Read at