Upstart Cyber Defense Club represents Wayne State in its first statewide competition

Wayne State Cyber Defense Club

Wayne State's new Cyber Defense Club participated in the Michigan Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) in February. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event was held remotely and consolidated with other state-level competitions, putting the fledgling group against 17 schools from across the Midwest.

"This was Wayne State's first attempt at this kind of competition," said Doug Witten, the club's faculty advisor. "We fared well considering how much preparation is needed in order to win this kind of tournament."

The CCDC simulates the challenges IT professionals face during attempted attacks from hackers. Teams are scored on how well they keep applications such as e-mail and online retail up and running. During the six-hour event, students faced 42 separate system changes that required knowledge on how to keep the application or system free from malicious attempts to infiltrate them.

"This was quite a challenge considering that we had no experience with this type of event," said co-captain Leah Mackay, a Wayne State computer science student. "At the end of the competition, we had a Q&A session with the actual hackers, and they went into detail on how they compromised specific systems. Overall, this was a lot of fun."

Mackay's fellow co-captain James Daniel recalled that the tournament was a fast-paced test of nerves. "I learned what it felt like to work under pressure and try to lead without having all of the answers. I was pleasantly surprised at how well we did as a team," he said.

State champions move on to the Midwest Regional CCDC in March. The winners of that event compete in the National CCDC at the end of April.

According to Witten, the team is already planning for next year's competition and preparing to vote for the club's leadership positions.


Bottom row (left to right):

James Daniel - Sterling Heights, Mich.

Myroslawa Chrin - Sterling Heights, Mich.

Leah Mackay - Grosse Pointe, Mich.

Amro Dadah - Syria

Kevin Clause - Port Huron, Mich.

Top row (left to right):

Shuhel Ahmed - Hamtramck, Mich.

Colin Mcclevarty - Livonia, Mich.

Josiah Lin - Hangzhou, China

Mac-Rufus Umeokolo - Detroit, Mich.

Chuck Bardel - River Falls, Wis.

Doug Witten - Swartz Creek, Mich. (advisor)

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