PHC Team Places 1st at Cyber Strategy Competition

Posted by Patrick Henry College on 9/28/23 3:10 PM

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Congratulations to the student team from the Strategic Intelligence in National Security program. The team won 1st place over Air Command and Staff College and West Point in the Atlantic Council's 2023 Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in Miami, FL!

The competition, which took place September 13-14, is an international cyber policy and strategy competition where student teams from across the globe compete in developing policy recommendations tackling a hypothetical cyber catastrophe. The Atlantic Council has scheduled competitions in multiple sites in the U.S. and at international locations in the 2023-24 competition season.

Thirteen teams competed in the Miami challenge this year, including international teams and several professional teams from the U.S. Military. Congratulations to PHC's team “Cloudestine Action” and champions Catherine Pannell, Garrin Rose, David Stokarski, and Lily Young, supported by Coach Sam Watkins and Assistant Coach Thomas Doan. 

This is the third year a team from PHC has participated in this "Cyber Challenge," but the first year a team has been able to compete in person. It is also the first time a PHC team has advanced to finals. Both PHC teams advanced to the semi-finals in the Spring 2023 competition in Washington, D.C. Strategic Intelligence Program Director Dr. Gordon Middleton commented on the recent win, saying, “Our major goal was just to get a team into the Finals, in order to gain the experience of that level of competition—planning that it would be a good experience to build on for future competitions. So, the students exceeded our expectations—to say the least!”

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The competition involved a scenario in which a suspected cyberattack crippled Miami's flood control infrastructure in the southeastern U.S. during a category-four hurricane. Teams proposed emergency responses based on new developments in the scenario supplied each round. By the last round, "Cloudestine Action" had only 15 minutes to incorporate the new information and prepare for their final briefing to a mock National Security Council. Participating teams were judged by panels of experienced professionals in cyber and national security policy.

The "Cloudestine Action" team competed against graduate students, students in top military schools, and students mid-career who had "all been doing cybersecurity for a couple of decades," according to Assistant Coach Thomas Doan, as cited by Gretchen Whittington of the Herald, a PHC student publication. Still, team member Lily Young commented, "There were . . . people coming up to us saying, "Oh, we heard from this team that you guys are really good and are the team to beat."

This win marks an exciting new field of competition and achievement for Patrick Henry College. Director Middleton says the result was particularly gratifying due to PHC’s short history of competing in the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, and he looks forward to more good results in the future.


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