GW CPS Students Compete in Virginia Cyber Competition

March 24, 2023

A group of people poses for a photo in front of a banner that reads "Center for leadership and ethics"

Cyber student team members and coach, from left to right: Giovanna Ferreira Rojas, Alexander Boyarskiy, Christian Tyler Gines, Mitchell Polser, David Vargas (coach and CPS faculty member), Ibraheem Alsaadi, Saina Esmaili and Ismaeel Alsaadi.

The world of cybersecurity is full of challenges and unknown dangers. Recently our GW team of six cybersecurity bachelor’s degree students participated in a hands-on learning experience to help them be ready for the real challenges they will face in their future careers.

The team participated in the invitation-only Commonwealth Cyber Fusion 2023 competition, held February 24-25, 2023 at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), open only to the Virginia community colleges and universities that are NSA/NHS designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Security (NCAE).

This is an invitation-only event for Virginia colleges that are designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in cyber defense. 

VMI co-hosted the two-day event with Honorary Chair Senator Mark R. Warner, the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, and the Virginia Cyber Range. The yearly event is attended by about 150 competitors and alternate team members, plus their instructors and advisors, and includes a job fair, speakers and panels, networking opportunities, and a capture-the-flag style cyber competition.

This year the GW CPS Cybersecurity program formed a team of six student competitors, and one student observer, to compete against the other 23 Virginia colleges, including Giovanna Ferreira Rojas, Alexander Boyarskiy, Christian Tyler Gines, Mitchell Polser, Ibraheem Alsaadi, Saina Esmaili and Ismaeel Alsaadi. CPS faculty member David Vargas acted as their coach.

During the competition our student team faced off against worthy adversaries, testing the limits of their knowledge with challenges ranging from introductory to advanced. Tasks were designed to test knowledge, as well as teach concepts, with students learning from their competition.

“For us, the competitor students, this event is a great opportunity to put into practice the skills that we have developed from each one of our courses in this program of studies, and at the same time, we get to network with prospective employers as well as students from other colleges who share the same passion as us, in this case, cyber security," said Giovanna Ferreira Rojas, a cyber student team member and GW’s Cyber Club president.

“During this competition, the different teams solve individual challenges of various point values across different categories to score points,” she commented. “The team with the highest point total at the end of the competition is the winner. An understanding of historical and modern security vulnerabilities is helpful to gain the most out of this experience.”

This annual event aims to foster the next generation of cybersecurity professionals in Virginia. It recognizes Cybersecurity as one of the nation’s and Commonwealth’s top priorities, by supporting the growing need for a sustainable talent pipeline capable of providing skilled, industry-ready workers to meet this increasing workforce demand.

More info about the Cybersecurity bachelor's degree completion program