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VMI Hosts Commonwealth Cyber Fusion Event For Seventh Year

cadet working on laptop

Cadet Pierce Harvey ’24 and his team vie for the top spot in the Virginia Cyber Cup competition.—VMI Photo by H. Lockwood McLaughlin.

VMI hosted the seventh annual Commonwealth Cyber Fusion and Virginia Cyber Cup Competition, a statewide collegiate cyber security competition, Feb. 23–24, 2024. The invitation-only event is for colleges that are National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. The Center for Leadership and Ethics organized the event as part of its strategic engagement initiatives and co-hosted with the Virginia Cyber Range and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.

VMI first began cyber competition in 2017 at the suggestion of Bryce Bucklin ’17, a computer science major, when the Commonwealth of Virginia sought to create a statewide cybersecurity competition. Sen. Mark Warner serves as honorary chairman.

Participating in this year’s Cyber Fusion event were approximately 150 students, with 30 of their faculty advisors, representing 21 colleges in Virginia: Danville Community College, ECPI, George Mason University, George Washington University, Germanna Community College, James Madison University, Liberty University, Laurel Ridge Community College, Marymount University, Northern Virginia Community College, Old Dominion University, Radford University, Regent University, Tidewater Community College, University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Peninsula Community, Virginia State University, VMI, Virginia Tech, and Virginia Western Community College. Each college was allowed to bring six competing students and two observer students.

Friday’s activities included a keynote speech by Oki Mek, Microsoft’s chief information security officer for the federal civilian sector and a veteran with a 20-year career inside the federal government; a job fair; an employer panel discussion regarding real-world advice for students; and a faculty/industry round table discussion hosted by representatives from the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative. This year’s competition included 44 challenges, the most ever for this competition.

The winners of the capture-the-flag-style Virginia Cyber Cup competition for the four-year college division were George Mason University in first, University of Virginia finishing second, and Virginia Tech in third. For the community college division, Tidewater Community College won, followed by Northern Virginia Community College in second, and Virginia Western Community College in third. George Mason University was the overall winner and received the Commonwealth Cyber Fusion Cup.