Capture the Flag competition promotes need for cybersecurity professionals

Purdue's two "Capture the Flag" teamsTwo student teams from Purdue competed against 11 other teams in the 2019 “Capture the Flag” (CTF) Information Security Competition hosted by Raymond James Wealth Management, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Purdue team comprised of students from the Polytechnic Institute, the College of Engineering and the College of Science took the first-place honor and was awarded $10,000. Their faculty mentor was Antonio Bianchi, assistant professor in computer science. The second Purdue team, made up entirely of Polytechnic students, placed seventh out of the 13 teams. Their faculty mentor was Tahir Khan, clinical assistant professor in computer and information technology.

“My students were passionate about participating and winning the competition,” said Khan.

Raymond James promoted the competition as a fun and challenging event “designed to educate and develop students’ skill sets;” however, the company’s eagerness to attract top cybersecurity talent was evident. For example, in addition to awarding a total of $17,500 in prize money to the top three teams, Raymond James also financed all the students’ travel to Florida, their meals and hotel accommodations. Their promotional materials even described the competition as being “as much an educational experience as an opportunity for students to secure an internship or entry-level position with the firm.”

Khan explained why the Polytechnic’s cybersecurity graduates are in such great demand by Fortune 500 companies such as Raymond James.

“First, our students understand the importance of working collaboratively with other teams to solve problems inside and outside of the classroom environment,” Khan said. “Also, we prepare our students to be lifelong learners who graduate with the skills to provide real-time security solutions.”

The winning team was made up of (from left) Alex Lin, College of Engineering; Connor McMillin, College of Science; Alissa Gilbert, Polytechnic Institute; Jack Zimmer, Polytechnic Institute; Bader AlBassam, College of Science.

The seventh-place team members were all from the Polytechnic Institute. From left:  Nickolas Howell	, Caroline Scott, Grant Myer, Charles Kaczor, Margaret Elton, Grant Myer