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Cyber students achieve highest finish with top 10 national ranking


Anthony Eich and Autumn Gamble were among the UH West Oʻahu students who helped the school achieve its top 10 ranking in a national cybersecurity competition. Image courtesy of Anthony Eich and Autumn Gamble

University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu students finished a cybersecurity competition with an overall ranking of 10th in the country, according to recently published results by the National Cyber League.

The rankings are of the fall 2021 season of the National Cyber League (NCL), a biannual cybersecurity competition. According to the NCL website, every year, over 10,000 students from more than 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. participate in the NCL competitions. The rankings represent the ability of students to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks.

Students had to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest and audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students.

“The cyber faculty at UH West Oʻahu are extremely proud of our students,” said Dr. Matthew Chapman, coach for the UH West Oʻahu National Cyber League students and teams. “For the first time since Collegiate Cyber Power Rankings were published by the National Cyber League, our students broke into the top 10 in the country.”

Chapman, who is also a professor of Computer Science and Cybersecurity, said the top ranking demonstrates a tremendous amount of talent, hard work, and most importantly, teamwork.

“Cybersecurity of our state’s critical infrastructure is a team effort in practice, so we feel very proud that the next generation of cybersecurity professionals coming out of our program have been recognized as some of the best in the country,” Chapman said.

He noted that it took the the entire cybersecurity program to get to this level of the competition, with individual achievement, team performance, and overall participation.

“For this season, we had six student teams, two of them finishing on the leaderboard at 12th and 52nd out of almost 4,000 entries,” Chapman said. “Overall, we had 38 students jump in to test their skills and fight for the top 10 ranking; 13 of these students finished in the 10% of the 6,480 competitors.”

Student Anthony Eich, captain of the UH West Oʻahu Red Team — which completed every challenge for a perfect score of 3,000 — said he is “exceedingly pleased” with the team.

“It was an incredible feat with everyone putting in everything they had to accomplish this result,” Eich said. “It took late nights, working in shifts, collaboration, and teamwork from each player to complete all the challenges.”

Eich said he is privileged to have led such a brilliant and driven group.

“Each of us learned valuable technical skills and experience, but moreover we gained real practice in ethical hacking and cybersecurity disciplines,” he said. “Knowing that our efforts, along with those of the other UH West Oʻahu teams and players, helped to propel our school into the top 10 ranking of cybersecurity programs in the country for the first time is an achievement that we should all be honored and proud to be a part of.”

Student Autumn Gamble, captain of the UH West Oʻahu Power Team, said the NCL was an extraordinary way to test her knowledge, as well as gain knowledge in the cyber field.

“My team spent sleepless nights trying to figure out the challenges that were given to us and I could not have done it without them,” Gamble said. “I am so proud of the work put in from the UH West Oʻahu Power Team.”

Gamble said when she found out about the top 10 placement, she immediately reached out to team members and congratulated them.

“Our work put into it really paid off,” she said. “For any student looking to do the challenge, I would highly recommend doing it no matter what your skill level is because you will learn a lot. Good job to everyone who participated.”