UA Wins 2018 SEC Student Cyber Challenge Competition

A team of students from The University of Alabama won first place in the SEC Student Cyber Challenge, the Southeastern Conference announced recently.

The contest was part of the 2018 SEC Academic Conference held at Auburn University and titled “Cyber Security: A Shared Responsibility.”

The UA SEC Student Cyber Challenge team included, from left, Kevin Poorman, Austin Hose, Austin Lucas, team adviser Dr. Matthew Hudnall, James Woods, and Equifax vice president of Technology, Global Platforms Brandon Holcomb.

Members of the winning team include:

  • Austin Hose, a junior in New College studying cyber security from Meridianville, Alabama
  • Kevin Poorman, a graduate student in criminology and criminal justice from Huntsville, Alabama
  • Austin Lucas, a senior studying management information systems from Marietta, Georgia
  • James Woods, a senior in management information systems from Cumming, Georgia.

The competition highlighted a real-world cyber security problem presented by Equifax, and teams had nearly 48 hours to develop a solution in a “hackathon” style challenge. Each SEC university was eligible to enter a team, which could include graduate and undergraduate students and required faculty oversight.

“It has been wonderful seeing all of the different views that the students have come together to ultimately develop a system that was deemed the best in the SEC,” said UA team adviser Dr. Matthew Hudnall, assistant professor of management information systems. “We had a great group with students from criminal justice, management information systems and cybersecurity. So, it was a very diverse team representing The University of Alabama.”

To kick off the challenge, executives from Equifax, the Atlanta-based global information solutions company, explained the simulated problem, and teams then worked at their own pace to devise a solution. Equifax and other industry experts, who ultimately selected the UA team as the winner for the team’s innovative offering, judged their final submissions.

“This was a great learning experience. We brought different things to the table, and it was interesting to see how my teammates could help me learn about how networks connect and talk to each other. That was really fun,” Poorman said.

Hose, one of his teammates, said it was interesting to work as a team over the two days.

“With our different skills coming together, we were able to present a good idea to solve the problem we were given,” he said.

A team from UA also won the student challenge at the 2017 SEC Academic Conference, placing first in the Campus Water Matters Challenge.

The University of Missouri finished second in the competition, followed by host Auburn. All three teams received prizes from Equifax.

In addition to the cyber challenge, students were also invited to present their cybersecurity research during the poster exhibition. The SEC Academic Conference included sessions on computer and communication technology; the economic and physical systems that are controlled by technology; and the policies and laws that govern and protect information stored, transmitted and processed with technology. It is one of several programs designed to showcase the academic achievements and accomplishments of SEC administrators, faculty and students.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.