Students attend cyber security conference, win competition

Posted November 12, 2014

Five students from ACU’s School of Information Technology and Computing (SITC) recently attended the University of Texas at Dallas’ annual Texas Security Awareness Week (TexSAW) Student Workshops and Competition. One of the students, Will Douglas, placed first in the event’s Capture the Flag (CTF) cyber security challenge.

Douglas, senior information technology major from Plano, and fellow attendees Robert Gillespie, Leo Lai, Alani Peters and Alcide Bennett III, competed against 25 teams from a variety of Texas schools, including the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston.

Dr. Rob Byrd, associate professor of information technology, accompanied the students to TexSAW. Byrd said Douglas met weekly with 10 to 15 students in one of SITC’s computer labs to discuss and practice cyber security in preparation for the competition.

TexSAW’s attendees also participated in a variety of student workshops and panels. The event’s featured speaker, John South, chief security officer at Heartland Payment Systems, gave a presentation to students regarding cyber security.

Byrd is enthusiastic about the event’s potential impact on the future of SITC.

“All of the students came back fired up to tell others about our cyber security club and proposed program,” explains Byrd. “I was happy to see us do so well so early in our growing cyber security presence. With ACU's reputation for producing graduates with strong values and work ethics, adding cyber security expertise will really put them in high demand.

“We are hoping to add a concentration in security to the IT major, but are still in the planning stages for that,” adds Byrd. “Cyber security is an exciting field that covers many disciplines and pays well.”

The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) annually holds its TexSAW symposium to highlight the importance of cyber security as an emerging technical field and motivate students to specialize in this field of study. This year’s symposium was the university’s fourth annual conference.

ACU's School of Information Technology and Computing (SITC) delivers a high-quality education for students interested in graduate school and careers in technical fields. Every 2014 SITC graduate was employed or accepted to graduate school within three months of graduation in 2014.

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