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Majors & Degrees

DSU CyberForce team is #4 in nation

December 11, 2018

The six members of Dakota State University’s defensive security competition team have a major accomplishment to add to their résumés.

Peter Engels, Hunter DeMeyer, Kyle Korman, Chris Loutsch, Austin Fritzemeier, and Micah Flack made up the DSU team that placed fourth in the nation at the recent CyberForce Competition. This contest is sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), and is hosted at seven DOE lab locations across the country; DSU’s team competed at Argonne National Labs in Illinois.

Engels is a senior network and security administration major from Minneota, Minn.; DeMeyer is a junior computer science major form Solon, Ohio; Korman is a junior cyber operations major from Grand Forks, N.D.; Loutsch is a junior cyber operations major from Milbank, S.D.; Fritzemeier is a junior cyber operations major from Brookings, S.D.; and Flack is a cyber operations junior from Bemidji, Minn.

“This competition represented the whole package of defensive security,” said Cody Welu, assistant professor of computer and cyber sciences, and club advisor. The students worked with hardware, software, and networking in the system of a mock oil company.

The DSU students scored higher than teams from Purdue University, Brigham Young University, and the California schools of UC-Davis and UC-Berkeley. Out of the 64 teams competing, the University of Central Florida took first, Kansas State finished in second place, and Oregon State third.

A few days after the competition, the team talked about their experience at the Defensive Security Club meeting. The technical jargon and acronyms used in the presentation didn’t intimidate the students; they were inspired by the presentation.

“We come to the club because we enjoy this,” said Jordan Entz, a senior cyber operations major from Wichita, Kansas. The team’s success is inspiring because you do what you enjoy, he said. Hearing about the team’s success “makes me want to do it next year,” said Kaytlyn Schaefer, a freshman from Plankinton S.D.

Inspiration is one goal of the DOE-sponsored competitions, which provides a hands-on cyber education for college students and professionals, creates an awareness of the critical infrastructure and cyber security nexus, and give students a basic understanding of cyber security within a real-world scenario.

It’s also about workforce development. The DOE CyberForce website says there will be 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity careers by 2019. Potential employers were at the competition, and Loutsch talked with some who noted this competition would look good on their résumés.

DeMeyer did point out that “It’s not all about the competition, it’s also about good friends.” None of the students had worked together before, but they made a good team. “And I think we represented DSU well,” Engels said.