After surviving a zombie outbreak, a team of students from ITT Technical Institute’s Boise campus is working feverishly to keep power flowing from a Stark Energy substation to the residents of Shelbyville.
The scenarios are fictitious, of course, serving as the staging grounds of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. After winning a regional competition in March in Seattle, eight ITT Tech students from Boise and coach Matt Fuhrman traveled to San Antonio, Texas, to compete against nine other teams for best in the nation. The teams are bunkered in the second floor of the Marriott Riverwalk hotel and will wrap up the two-day competition Saturday evening.
Fuhrman, an adjunct instructor in the school’s IT department, said his energy drink-fueled team is engrossed in its tasks: Figuring out the IT system for the fictitious Stark; handling day-to-day operations problems; fending off cyberattacks from the real-life humans on the competition’s “red team;” and keeping the power flowing to Shelbyville.
“There’s some talk that goes on, but my team is fairly professional,” Fuhrman said. “But in stressful situations, a little joking lightens the tension a bit.”
In the regional competition, the team acted as the Centers for Disease Control during a mock zombie outbreak in Seattle, keeping the communications system going and updating the center’s website with information to help survivors.
The team paid for its travel to Seattle, and ITT Tech paid for hotels. Competition sponsors paid for the team to travel and stay in Texas.
There’s no reward money, but Fuhrman said jobs could be at stake. Tech companies, including Microsoft and Amazon, are known to scout the competition looking for employees, he said.
“Nationals is thought of as a very intense job interview,” Fuhrman said. “A lot of large companies are here looking for talent with job offers in hand for people who might fit in their environment.”