PBSC places second in first Florida college cybersecurity competition
Palm Beach State College’s Ethical Hackers Club team took to their screens and battled as one of Florida’s “Great 28” public colleges in the First Annual Florida College System Cyber Challenge, winning second place in the daylong virtual competition on Saturday, Nov. 4. Daytona State College came in first and St. Petersburg College placed third.
The competition challenged teams from all 28 FCS colleges to solve various cybercrime scenarios. The experiential scenarios measured students’ skills to detect, respond to and stand against security incidents, mapped against specific competencies and performance indicators. Each scenario involved a storyline, a virtual infrastructure and applications, user activity, tasks to perform, surprises to handle and more—all up against the clock.
PBSC’s winning team, named “CyberForce,” was composed of three students who are leading members of the College’s Ethical Hackers Club: Abhi Saini, team captain, Ithiel Brazier and Stanley Wisnioski.
Saini and Brazier are both seniors in PBSC’s Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Management degree program, Security and Network Assurance concentration. The third member of the team, Stanley Wisnioski, is a dual enrollment student from William T. Dwyer High School. All three are very active members of the Ethical Hackers Club, where they each hold the title of CyberScientist and help to lead club activities, trainings and presentations, including at the semi-annual PBSC CyberWeek Conference.
Kudos for the win are also due the Ethical Hackers Club itself. Led by Andrea Sanguinetti, club president, and Denise Barrera, vice president, and advised by Dwight T. Elliott, J.D., PBSC professor of information management, the club has about 80 members, all students enrolled in PBSC’s cybersecurity-related programs, which include bachelor’s and associate degrees and college credit certificates.
The Ethical Hackers Club is the heart of Palm Beach State’s cybersecurity community. Club meetings are held virtually every Friday, 7:30 – 9 p.m., but often go as late as 10:30 p.m. That’s how determined these students are to rise in this profession. Every week they practice their cyber defense skills and engage in competitions, trainings and demonstrations, with many earning industry credentials along the way. True to the club’s focus on workforce preparedness, members also have opportunities to network and hear from guest speakers.
“This win was not an overnight success,” Elliott explained. “It’s because of the community that we built in the Ethical Hackers Club. They learn the concepts in the classroom, but they fine-tune their skills in the club. Over the last two years, the students have been actively sharing knowledge, doing individual and group presentations and participating in cyber activities. So when the competition came along, they were ready. Our students are really passionate about learning this topic and willing to go above and beyond, and it showed up in this competition.”
In February 2023, Palm Beach State College was named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.