UD student James Luck (center, wearing glasses) found participation in the U.S. Cyber Challenge camp to be a valuable experience.

Elite cyber talent

Students from around the state train to become cyber professionals


10:11 a.m., July 30, 2014--Cyber attacks are increasing in frequency and scope. Identifying and training people to thwart these attacks is a recognized need.

“One person with a laptop can have just as much effect as an entire army,” said James Luck, a University of Delaware Honors Program student studying computer science.

Campus Stories

From graduates, faculty

As it neared time for the processional to open the University of Delaware Commencement ceremonies, graduating students and faculty members shared their feelings about what the event means to them.

Doctoral hooding

It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

Luck was one of 62 students from UD, Wilmington University, Delaware Technical Community College, Delaware State University and several local high schools, as well as some local security professionals, to participate in the United States Cyber Challenge (USCC) camp hosted last week at UD. 

USCC is a national program that works with states to connect cyber talent to the industry. Camp participants attended in-depth classes on digital forensics, web penetration testing, and packet crafting taught by cybersecurity experts, in addition to a career fair that could potentially help them land jobs. 

A capture the flag attack and defense competition rounded out the week, with campers testing their new skills by completing tasks to either hack a server or protect it. 

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and other state dignitaries commended the students for their enthusiasm during the program’s award ceremony July 25 and reminded them of the important role cybersecurity plays in today’s society. 

“Defending our nation from cyber attacks is as important work as we do,” said Carper. “Attackers can go on the Internet and steal our money, find someone’s personal information and steal that identity, or steal intellectual property from universities and companies that we have spent years developing and then monetize off of it.”

By participating in the camp, Carper said, the students are helping to fill an immense shortage in the national cyber workforce, and that the state is committed to continuing to provide the nurturing environment in which to create those jobs. 

Since 2010, 191 students have graduated from the USCC Delaware Cyber Camp.

Chase Cotton, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), said that the camp prepares participants for careers by exposing them to both the offensive and defensive aspects of the work. 

“The defensive nature of this field requires students to understand the defects in a system and how to bypass them so that they can create preventative measures to protect information, or know how a hacker may have already entered the system,” he said. 

UD hired national defense expert Starnes Walker to lead a new cybersecurity initiative at the University last spring. This fall, the electrical and computer engineering department will begin offering a new 18-credit cybersecurity minor that allows students to infuse computer and network security fundamentals into their current degree program. A master’s degree program in cybersecurity is also under development. 

In the meantime, Luck, now a senior, said he believes staying relevant is the key to succeeding in the cybersecurity field. He plans to share what he learned at the USCC Delaware camp with his classmates and with the members of the student-run Linux Users Group, which he serves as president. He hopes the general public will also take an interest in cybersecurity, even if they don’t go into the field.

“People should be aware of why it’s happening and that it will have a big impact on them personally in the long run if something happens,” Luck said. 

More about USCC-DE

This year’s event was supported in part through sponsorships by the state of Delaware, SANS Institute, CyberAces, Association for Federal Information Resources Management, Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft and Lockheed Martin, among others. Local sponsors include Wilmington University, Delaware State University, UD and PJM.

Other distinguished speakers at the awards ceremony included Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware Chief Security Officer Elayne Starkey, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy and UD ECE Department Chair Kenneth Barner.

Article by Collette L. O’Neal

Photos by Evan Krape and Doug Baker

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