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Local Computer Science Students Compete At Global Level

Students studying computer science at Purdue University Fort Wayne continue to place high in competitions related to cybersecurity and programming.

During the current National Cyber League 2023 Fall Season, which concluded Dec. 15, a major three-day competition at the beginning of November saw Purdue Fort Wayne finish 36th out of 1,062 teams that participated. That result found PFW in the top 4% of teams taking part in the biannual event.

The Purdue University Fort Wayne computer science majors who joined forces to finish #36 at the National Cyber League Team Game Nov. 3-5 were (L to R) Elizabeth Perry, Tyler Delagrange, Maxwell Klema, Neal Birchfield, Ronit Patel, Luke Bushur and Sean Tierney.

According to NCL, the competition enables students to prepare and test themselves against practical cybersecurity challenges that they will likely face in the workforce, such as identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting – an authorized simulated attack performed on a computer system to evaluate its security – auditing vulnerable websites, recovering from ransomware attacks, and more. NCL describes itself as a community and virtual training ground that allows students to develop and demonstrate their technical cybersecurity skills so they may bridge the gap from curriculum to career.

According to the current Cyber Power Rankings, a list generated by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the NCL, Purdue Fort Wayne has an overall ranking of #38 nationally. Among the teams from Indiana, only Purdue University West Lafayette is ranked higher at #27.

Of those PFW undergraduates who are ranked individually this season, senior Sean Tierney is 240th and senior Neal Birchfield 242nd out of 9,770 total competitors who registered.

“I remember finishing the competition and realized I have to wait until April for the next one,” Tierney said. “I wanted to do a winter one. You learn so much in the competition, you want to go again right away.”

In addition to Tierney and Birchfield, the PFW roster during the fall campaign includes senior Tyler Delagrange, freshman Maxwell Klema, sophomore Elizabeth Perry, and seniors Luke Bushur and Ronit Patel. They are all computer science majors.

“This was the hardest NCL season I’ve ever competed in,” said Delagrange, who participated for the third time. “Part of our success was because we had more experience knowing what to expect, and we had a full team of seven people. We could delegate tasks, get more opinions and perspectives on things, and that helps so much with the challenges that NCL gives you.”

On the global stage, PFW computer science students also demonstrated exceptional skills in the IEEEXtreme programming competition on Oct. 28. Of the 7,094 teams representing 69 different countries that worked to solve a set of programming problems over a 24-hour period, PFW’s top sides achieved ranks of 40th and 41st among the 207 U.S. teams that took part in this year’s competition, the 17th overall.

Collectively, the PFW computer science students who represented the university in the competitions acknowledged the strong support they received from multiple faculty members in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science who have been advising them this season.

The Waynedale News Staff
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