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TCC students take first place in cyber competition

Tidewater Community College cyber security students took first place in the 2023 Cyber Fusion competition in the Community College Division.

Cyber Fusion 2023, hosted by Virginia Military Institute, welcomed representatives from institutions of higher education from across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

About 150 students and 30 faculty advisors attended. The annual invitation-only event, co-sponsored by the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and Virginia Cyber Range, is open to Virginia colleges that are designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

The two-day event included a job fair, speakers and a capture-the-flag cyber competition.

A total of six TCC students participated in the competition, under the direction of faculty advisors John McGill and Joel Kirch. The team tackled problems in scenarios designed to model real-world computer security challenges across a range of categories including cryptography, network traffic analysis, reverse engineering, steganography and more. Two student observers were also present at the event.

The Virginia Cyber Cup capture-the-flag (CTF) competition is a jeopardy-style CTF in which teams solve individual challenges of various point values across different categories to score points. The team with the highest point total at the end of the competition is the winner. 

Dean Debra Dart (center) with TCC students and instructor John McGill.

“The competition is designed to both test skills and teach concepts,” said TCC Dean Debra Dart. “These activities are very important for our students’ training and help to develop a sustainable pipeline of capable talent, and industry-read workers to meet the increasing demand for cyber security engineers.”

Tidewater Community College took the top spot in the community college division, with Laurel Ridge Community College taking second place and Virginia Western Community College in third. The University of Virginia was the overall winner and received the Commonwealth Cyber Fusion Cup. The four-year college division winners are University of Virginia in first, Liberty University finishing second, and George Mason University in third.