Cyber Defense Team Takes First Place at State

Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence (MN STATE IT COE), one of eight Minnesota State Centers of Excellence, provides high school and college students with various resources and programs to support the ever-changing world of Information Technology and Computer Science. The Center has contributed significantly by reaching out to thousands of secondary students, funding dozens of new curriculum efforts, and leading numerous other efforts to increase the quality and quantity of IT talent in the state.

One of the annually sponsored and organized events is the Minnesota State Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC). Winners of the Minnesota CCDC advance to Regional CCDC ( hosted by Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois with a chance to compete at the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition At Texas San Antonio, Texas, in April 2024. (

Over 80 students from 8 different Minnesota State System institutions joined this year for a full day of competition and learning. Along with students, faculty and industry members participated as advisors, sponsors, and Red Team (Ethical Hackers/Penetration Experts).

In a controlled virtual environment, CCDC competitors assume administrative and protective duties for an existing “commercial” network – typically a small company with 50+ users, 7 to 10 servers, and standard Internet services such as a web server, mail server, and e-commerce site. Each team begins the competition with an identical set of hardware and software and is scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, maintain the availability of existing services such as mail servers and web servers, respond to business requests such as the addition or removal of additional services, and balance security needs against business needs.

Throughout the competition, an automated scoring engine periodically verifies each team’s services’ functionality and availability, and traffic generators feed simulated user traffic into the competition network. A volunteer Red Team (Ethical Hackers) provides the “external threat” of all Internet-based services, which allows the teams to match their defensive skills against live opponents (hackers).

The competition was tight this year, with the top four (4) teams within 2,000 points (out of 42,000).
1st Place – Pine Technical and Community College, Pine City, MN
2nd Place – Alex Technical and Community College, Alexandria, MN
3rd Place – Hennepin Technical College, Brooklyn Park, MN
4th Place – MCTC, Minneapolis College, Minneapolis, MN

Other Participating Teams: Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN; Minnesota State Community and Technical College with MN State U, Moorhead, Moorhead, MN; Minnesota State University, Mankato; and St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN.
Pine Tech will automatically move on to the Regional CCDC on March 15-16, 2024, and 2nd and 3rd Place Teams – Alex Tech and Hennepin Technical College will complete in the Midwest Wildcard on February 24th, 2024, for an additional chance to move on to the Regional as well.


Contact: Janice Aanenson, PhD
MN State IT COE Executive Director and CCDC State Director
Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence

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