Southeast Cyber Defense Team Takes Third at Midwest Regional Collegiate Competition


The Southeast Missouri State University Cyber Defense Team took third place at the virtual 2021 Erich J. Spenger Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC).

The Southeast Cyber Defense Team competed against 10 other university teams. The virtual competition was designed to test each team’s ability to secure a networked computer system while maintaining standard business functionality.

Southeast advanced to the Midwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition after taking first place for the ninth straight year at the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

“We are incredibly proud of our students,” said Southeast Provost Dr. Mike Godard. “This is an amazing accomplishment, from securing a 9-year winning streak at the state competition, to having to compete in a new virtual format for the regional level, this award is a testament to the hard work and dedication they’ve put into this team.”

Southeast’s 12-person team and four alternatives who competed in the Regional CCDC included:

  • Gabe Stier of Sherman, Ill.
  • Jack Gavin of Lee’s Summit, Mo.
  • Will Ward of Jackson, Mo.
  • Ethan Jett of Bloomington, Ill.
  • Elijah Iverson of Bloomington
  • Joseph Kossack of Vienna, Ill.
  • Jennifer Tenholder of Florissant, Mo.
  • Suzie Luehmann of Granite City, Ill.
  • Christian Atkins of Ballwin, Mo.
  • Stephen Gullette of Cape Girardeau, Mo.
  • Luke Skaggs of Festus, Mo.
  • Trevor Banning of Salem, Ill.

As part of the competition, the team built and defended a mock production business infrastructure from professional “hackers” trying to take down the team’s production systems offline and breach their security. Simultaneously while fending off these “hackers,” the team was required to respond to network enhancement and upgrade challenges deployed by the competition judging staff, who evaluated the team’s overall performance and scoring.

For team co-captain Stier, the team’s third place was a memorable conclusion to his senior year at Southeast, especially after the team qualified to compete in last year’s Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition but was unable to participate because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It felt amazing to participate this year,” he said. “This shows the determination we’ve had all year, and the willingness of my team mates to study and put in the effort and time in and out of the classroom.”

Southeast’s Department of Computer Science and cybersecurity program has created the academic foundation he and his fellow students need to be a 9-time state winning team and to place third in the regional competition after a one-year hiatus, Stier said.

“It feels great to be a part of this legacy this team has continued this year,” he said. “This shows our future employers we’ve got the real-world experiences and job-related skills to be successful.”