UH West Oʻahu cybersecurity program ranks 30th among more than 1,000 schools

A UH West Oʻahu cyber security student sits in front of monitors.

UH West Oʻahu’s cyber security program is nationally ranked

The University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu’s cybersecurity program ranks 30th among 1,290 colleges, according to the  testing of students’ cyber aptitude by a leading organization focusing on internet security.

The performance of UH West Oʻahu students in SANS Institute’s Cyber FastTrack challenges ranked the school in the top tier of colleges with students participating in the program. UH West Oʻahu also was the best program in the state of Hawaiʻi in the ranking by SANS Institute, a research and education organization focused on information security training and certification.

“Something is going very right for cybersecurity in Hawaiʻi,” said Alan Paller, SANS Institute director of Research, commenting on the 118 students from the state that participated in the CyberStart Assess phases of the Cyber FastTrack program. The online program is free for students, who compete for a chance to win scholarships for advanced cybersecurity training.

Matt Chapman

Dr. Matthew Chapman

“What is most impressive is that 30 students demonstrated sufficient aptitude to be selected as quarterfinalists and to move on to the next round toward national recognition and the $2.5 million in scholarships.”

UH West Oʻahu accounted for 14 of the 30 students from Hawaiʻi that are moving on to the quarterfinals of the competition. Paller said 10 percent of Hawaiʻi students solved the most difficult challenges, putting them in the “Highly Adept” category of participants. More than half of the Hawaiʻi participants solved challenges that required the application of cybersecurity specific techniques and concepts.

“Our cyber students never cease to amaze me,” said Dr. Matthew Chapman, UH West Oʻahu Associate Professor of Information Technology and Cyber Security and head of the campus’ cybersecurity program. “Their technical abilities, professionalism, and motivation to be the best, are inspiring. Also, they are just a really fun group of people to be around.”

SANS Institute has partnered with state governors on the Cyber FastTrack program, which is an effort to encourage students to pursue cybersecurity careers and reducing the United States’ digital skills gap with other countries. The program consists of three levels of challenges–students who complete the Assess phase are invited to compete in the CyberStart Game.

Cybersecurity is one of UH West Oʻahu’s signature programs, with many of its graduates having secured jobs by the time they leave school. Teams that include UH West Oʻahu students captured National Cyber League titles in 2016 and 2018, and placed in the top 3 during two competitions in 2017. The schools’ cybersecurity program also is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

SANS Institute is one of the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training and security certification in the world. It also develops, maintains, and makes available at no cost, a large collection of research documents about various aspects of information security, and it operates the Internet’s early warning system – the Internet Storm Center.

Other Hawaiʻi colleges in the rankings included the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (#48), Leeward Community College (#132), and UH Hilo (#167).  Kapiolani Community College and UH Maui College were tied at #268.

An earlier ranking by SANS Institute found UH West Oʻahu ranked 27th in the nation. The  listing released in April 2019 used different criteria – it was based on the number of students participating amplified by how well they did. The most recent listing is ranked by how many did well enough to make it into the quarterfinals.

Images courtesy of Brian Miyamoto and UHWO Staff