University at Buffalo students win cybersecurity competition

Release Date: March 29, 2018 This content is archived.

Team advances to national competition in April

Dave Murray.
“This competition is representative of the challenges security professionals face in industry, and provides an unparalleled experiential learning opportunity for students. ”
University at Buffalo School of Management

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nine University at Buffalo students in management, computer science and computer engineering won first place in the Northeast Collegiate Cyberdefense Competition, a cybersecurity challenge held March 16-18 at the University of New Hampshire.

UB School of Management students Jered Geist of Amherst; Stefan Jagroop of Jamaica and Paul Prawdzik of Queens, as well as UB’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) students Nick Brase of Hope Mills, NC; Vincent Bruno of Grand Island, Grant Fowler of Orchard Park; Stephen James of the Bronx and Ross Ventresca of Lewiston made up the winning team. UB School of Management student Alex Bitar of Williamsville was a team alternate.

The UB team received a $500 gift card provided by Palo Alto Networks and a trophy, as well as Raspberry Pi computers for each team member, provided by Raytheon. Teams from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Northeastern University took second and third place, respectively. Other finalists hailed from Champlain College, Stevens Institute of Technology, University at Albany, University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, West Point and Westchester Community College.

“This competition is representative of the challenges security professionals face in industry, and provides an unparalleled experiential learning opportunity for students,” says Dave Murray, clinical associate professor of management science and systems, who served as the team’s faculty coach. “Their success is a testament to their hard work, technical aptitude and ability to work well under pressure as a team.”

At the event, participants posed as system administrators and security operations experts for a cybertraining and forensic services company. The teams had to move confidential client information to a secure, offline storage facility with proper data access controls. With their first-place finish, UB advances to represent the Northeast region at the National Collegiate Cyberdefense Competition in April.

Participation in the competition was supported in part by alumni donors and corporate sponsors, under the guidance of the UB Center of Excellence in Information Systems Assurance Research and Education (CEISARE) and directed by Shambhu Upadhyaya, SEAS associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of computer science and engineering.

“This truly multidisciplinary team work reflects the mission of CEISARE, which is to train students to protect the nation from computer-based attacks, carry out research on a broad range of cybersecurity issues, and introduce careers in cybersecurity to the younger generation,” says Upadhyaya.

For Geist, it was his third year participating in this competition, but his first year as team captain.

“Going into these competitions, we always have the motto of ‘learn something, don’t give up and have fun’,” says Geist. “We really stuck to that in New Hampshire, and it was a fantastic thing to be a part of.”

Professionals and representatives from industry served as competition judges, who assessed the team’s ability to maintain network and service availability.

Founded in 1946, the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences continually builds upon its proud legacy of excellent educational programs and world-class research. Ranked among the top engineering schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the school provides an inclusive environment that supports big thinking, creative freedom, and vast possibilities for achievement for its faculty, students and alumni. For more information about the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, visit

The UB School of Management is recognized for its emphasis on real-world learning, community and economic impact, and the global perspective of its faculty, students and alumni. The school also has been ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its programs and the return on investment it provides its graduates. For more information about the UB School of Management, visit

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School of Management