The most competitive region in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC), the Mid-Atlantic (MACCDC), has always challenged Liberty’s quest for a national title. But Liberty’s 10-man roster, led by senior Amanda Jones, was determined to rise above that lusty rating.
And he got up. The team earned first place at regionals March 18-19 and will compete at the nationals in San Antonio, Texas, April 21-23 for the first time since 2016.
“It was amazing,” said Jones, who applauded her teammates and coaches for the hard-earned victory. “My teammates are showing incredible leadership and initiative. … I think that’s what made us so consistent across the board in every scoring category.
Of the 24 teams represented in the Mid-Atlantic, which encompasses Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, only eight teams advance to regionals.
The members of Liberty found themselves competing against 2019 National Champion University of Virginia (2n/a), Drexel University (tied for 3rd), George Mason University (tied for 3rd), University of Maryland Baltimore Country (5and), Baltimore County Community College (6and), Capitol University of Technology (7and), and Bowie State University (8and).
The contest format simulates a cyber disaster at a large company. Every team tasked with defending a network from a hacker attack is measured by C-level leadership meetings, incident response, injections, and services.
“We’re all kind of unified,” Jones said. “We knew there would be unexpected things and complications.”
Thanks to Jones, Liberty took first place in the C-level executive meetings on Day 1 and Day 2, where team captains brief their “bosses” on all things offense.
“I wanted them to finish strong and score with no regrets,” said associate computer science professor and team coach Richard Bansley. “I believe that was accomplished even before the results were announced. … We are recognized as a group of high quality, professional competitors who prioritize the integrity of our efforts.
Liberty has always had a respectable showing at the MACCDC, but only the first-place team qualifies for the Nationals, with second-place vying for a wildcard round. Freedom placed 3rd in 2020 and 2021.
“They are doing exceptional things,” said Liberty’s Center for Cyber Excellence executive director Dr. Michael Lehrfeld. “They demonstrate not only the excellence they have, but also the excellence of the program and the university. … “The team never loses its cool. We fight until the end. Even though things may look bleak, we’re going to finish what we started.
Lehrfeld praised the team for their composure and Christian attitude throughout the stressful two-day virtual competition.
“We’re not judged by scores alone,” he said. “We are judged on how we behave during this competition. … Anyone can do technical stuff, but when you start combining technical stuff with Christ-like attributes, that’s where we get the victory.
The National Championships will be broadcast live from April 21-23.