Baylor Team Headed to Regionals in the Southwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition

March 15, 2023

For the third consecutive year, the Baylor Cybersecurity team advanced to Regionals in the Southwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (SWCCDC) after placing in the Top 8 at the Qualifier round on February 18. The first-place team from Regionals being held March 17 – 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will advance to the National CCDC being held April 28-30.

“Competitions are a critical element of our cybersecurity program here at Baylor. Competitions require students to not only possess the knowledge and ability to respond to security incidents, but also to be able to do so quickly under stressful conditions,” says Shaun Hutton, one of the team’s coaches and executive director of The Central Texas Cyber Range currently under construction at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative. Hutton, who is also a Clinical Associate Professor of Computer Science at Baylor, describes CCDC’s competition as a “game-changer” for cybersecurity by bringing excitement to real-world dilemmas and making it accessible for students.

CCDC says their competition “focuses on the operational aspects of managing and protecting an existing simulated corporate network infrastructure,” by providing students with scenarios modeled after real-world events, with tasks ranging from technical to the policy-oriented, all while being under cyber attack from professional hackers.

Not only does competition prepare students for their future careers, but it also helps them in their studies. This is the 16th year for CCDC, which aims to be “a competition for college students that exercises both technical and business skills,” explains team co-captains Harm Drenth, a senior Computer Science major, and Matthew Homan, a management information systems major. Drenth and Homan say they realize the significance of how this competition helps them in both their future careers and their classes.

Because cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field, he feels an obligation to assist, and most of the work done for the club is directly related to his upper-level curriculum classwork. “I’m excited to be in the next generation of digital guardians,” says Drenth.

Homan, who at first joined simply due to his interest in computers, describes the Baylor cyber team as “a wholly unique endeavor full of fun challenges, learning, and team-building that's hard to come by anywhere else.” He agrees that competing has helped him excel in his classes, especially due the critical thinking and problem-solving skills involved.

Coach Jeff Donahoo, PhD, Professor of Computer Science, is proud of the work ethic and determination of the team, not only to do well in comparison to their peers, but to dedicate themselves to serving the greater good through cybersecurity in the years to come.

“The Baylor cybersecurity team trains for hours each week to prepare for competition. We should all celebrate their willingness to go above and beyond in search of excellence,” says Donahoo. “These capabilities will be critical to our national and economic security when these students move into the workforce."

The Baylor cyber team is experiencing frequent success, with National Cyber League rankings of 18th nationally out of 470 teams and 5th in the central region for fall 2022.

Members pictured are (front row, L-R) Matthew Homan, Bryant Huang. Back Row (L-R): Trae Stevens, Brendon Kofink, Misty Kurien, Aaron Sierra, Harm Drenth, and Patrick Harris.