On Saturday, March 26, our Cyber Science and Informatics Program (LBCSI) hosted its fifth annual Loyola Blakefield Cyber Challenge (LBC2)
. For the first time, the event took place both virtually and in-person on Loyola’s campus as more than 150 students, volunteers, and mentors from across the state of Maryland participated in this educational experience. A total of 31 teams competed in-person in Loyola’s Four-Court Gym, while six teams joined online.
“We were thrilled to have a full house of diverse students ready to participate,” said Steve Morrill, Director of Cyber Science & Technology at Loyola. “Running two competitions in unison took careful planning by our student leadership team.” Development of the event began back in August and was led by product development leads Jack Wachter ’24 and Zach Shrader ’22. The team created cyber challenges that tested competitors’ knowledge of programming, web exploitation, cryptography, reverse engineering, and networking. The task of creating challenging content, writing the storylines, and testing the platform was an intense process.
Most competitors registered in the Beginner Division, which was designed to be a training tool for the day. Industry mentors who were present provided guidance and support throughout the day to encourage competitors.
“LBC2 was able to continue its growth thanks to the use of the CyberStronger platform from Comtech,” said Morrill. “Zach Hopp ’22 and Jack Wachter ’24 were able to design operating system-based challenges in this platform for all competitors to access.” Chris Will, VP of Cyber Solutions at Comtech, remarked how proud he is of the partnership with LBCSI and happy to support the continued growth of the competition.
Juniper Networks was another new partner of LBC2 this year. The team brought along an enterprise wireless network that competitors could test drive. The system features the Marvis AI Virtual Network Assistant that enables network administrators to quickly identify issues in their network. The Juniper team of Dennis Schwanke, Senior National Manager, and Jamie Stant, Senior Manager of their Global Virtual Strategic Account Manager Team, enjoyed their time connecting with the competitors.
“Technology and the world today are moving very quickly. The only way to excel is to have true hands-on experience, and what Steve Morrill is helping to foster with not only Loyola students, but all the students who attended LBC2, is that hands-on experience,” said Schwanke. “The questions and discussions these kids were able to have during the day will be invaluable to them as they continue to learn and grow in the technology field.”
Competitors in both the Beginner and Advanced Divisions competed for cash prizes and raffle items throughout the day. Congratulations to the top three teams in the Advanced Division, which included Team NutterButter, Team Prismatic Orange, and Team 46 Seconds.
“We are grateful for our sponsors, mentors, and especially the competitors who maybe went outside of their comfort zone to learn something new,” said Morrill. “One of our favorite things to hear, in addition to students looking forward to returning next year, is that their brain hurts in a good way from the experience."
View photos from the event here