The John A. Logan College Cyber Security Team, the Logan Defenders, was recently notified that they have been accepted to compete in the Department of Energy Cyber Force Competition November 30 and December 1, at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL. The Defenders were chosen after a lengthy application process. This is the second time in three years that the Defenders were selected to compete. In their previous appearance JALC was the only community college in the competition, and will be one of only two community colleges at this year’s event.
For Coach Mark Rogers the selection is an honor, and despite being the smallest school in the competition where they will go up against the likes of Purdue University, Indiana University and Loyola of Chicago he believes his team will not be intimidated, and will use it as motivation to perform.
“We will go into this as a big underdog because we will be going up against teams that write their own operating system and have Ph.D. students that have competed on the same team for four or five years,” said Rogers. “This will be the first national competition for everyone on my team, but they are really talented, and I know that they are motivated to do very well.”
Rogers added that the opportunity to participate in this competition will open up many doors for the students.
“Professionally this will open up so many doors because there are only a couple hundred students nationally that get to compete in this event,” said Rogers. “All the students have to have resumes with them and the Department of Energy and other agencies along with headhunters for corporations will be there to watch and see what they can do.”
For team members Roger Jeter and Alexis Winters this is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It is an excellent opportunity and an exciting opportunity to showcase the skills that we have been learning,” said Jeter. “We have the same practice and skill set as the four-year schools even though we don’t have the same resources, but we do get to showcase what we have learned on a big stage with a lot of eyes watching.”
“I think it is going to be a real eye opener and a game changer for me,” added Winters. “In just one year of competing, I have learned so much. I can’t wait to be a part of this competition.”
According to Rogers, competitions will take place at other National Laboratories at the same time with the winners of each competition squaring off to crown a champion at a later date. Other teams chosen for the Argonne competition are McKendree University, Lewis University, Kansas State, University of Houston, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois State, Northeastern Illinois University, UIC, Purdue University, Northern Iowa, College of DuPage, Central Florida, Northern Illinois and Indiana University. This year’s Logan Defenders are Roger Jeter, Marion; Alexis Winters, Marion; Arnaud Henoux, Carterville; Devin Beasley, Crab Orchard; Jared Ponton, Hattiesburg, MS; Tyler Oakley, Marion. The team is coached by Mark Rogers and Kylee Williams.
CARTERVILLE — Jarrod Echols — a 2008 graduate of John A. Logan College — has been chosen as the College’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year.
He will speak at graduation in May.
Echols, a Murphysboro native, gained considerable attention more than a year ago when he was named to the White House Information Technology Team where he identified and combated threats to the Executive Office of the President network.
Then, Echols pointed to instructors at John A. Logan College for his professional success. Echols, in fact, marveled at the instruction he received at John A. Logan College, praising JALC Professor Mark Rogers for his passion in the classroom.
“Mark Rogers stood out the most, especially since his focus was on network security,” Echols said. “He always went into amazing detail on how to secure the network based on his own experiences outside the classroom. The classes included a lab, which allowed me to practice hands-on with the equipment and software.”
Echols recently left the White House after being offered a job with one of the world’s largest private cybersecurity companies. He is now traveling many parts of the world helping large corporations and other entities with securing their networks.
“The success in my career is a reflection of the dedicated instructors and staff at John A. Logan College,” Echols said. “They have a strong desire to make sure students succeed.”
Echols said he especially enjoyed spending time on classroom projects that included building wireless network designs and learning how operating systems interacted with computer hardware.
Echols’ love for information technology and his interest in law enforcement — fostered by his father, Paul Echols, a decorated Carbondale police officer — combined together to lead him into the field of information security, he explained.
After JALC, Jarrod transferred to Southern Illinois University where he completed a Bachelors in Information Systems Technology and a Masters of Public Administration.
During Echols’ Master’s program, he was invited to an internship with the US Senate Sergeant At Arms Information Security program. This internship led to Echols becoming a full-time employee for a defense contractor supporting the US Senate Cyber Security Operations Center and eventually a government employee leading the Cyber Threat Intelligence Branch. After helping build the Cyber Threat Intelligence program for the US Senate, Echols accepted a position with the White House Threat Intelligence Team at the Executive Office of the President for a year, and is now working for the private threat intelligence company “Flashpoint.”
CARTERVILLE — The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was the latest to fall victim to the genius of the John A. Logan College cyber defense team during competition in Chicago recently.
“I could not be more proud of our team, they did not crack under pressure,” said Mark Rogers, Logan’s assistant professor of business and the team’s coach.
Logan’s team also beat out Chicago’s Governor’s State University in a competition that featured only one community college — John A. Logan College — among 14 universities.
“What Mark Rogers and Kylee Williams (the team’s assistant coach) accomplished with their team in Chicago is nothing short of remarkable,” said Dr. Ron House, president of John A. Logan College. “We were the tiny school going in, but this team certainly showed they are capable of competing with some of the biggest universities in the nation.”
The competition was by invitation only and the reputation of Logan’s cyber defense team did not go unnoticed. While universities such as the University of Illinois, Indiana University, St. John’s University, Kansas State University and others received invitations, John A. Logan College was the only community college (or two-year school) to be asked to compete.
The competition took place this past week at the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.
In addition to the success of winning against two major universities, the work of Karandeep Bedi of Marion caught the eye of the US Department of Energy which had agency members on hand at the competition.
“This could result in an internship and even more for this student,” Rogers said. “There were a lot of eyes on the students in this competition. It’s possible that other opportunities for our students will result because of it.”
Rogers noted that there was a lot of pressure going into he competition simply because Logan was by far the smallest school.
“Our team performed steady throughout the event,” Rogers said. “They worked to solve problems as they came up and worked as a team to overcome the issues as they found them.”
The competition focused on defending both the nation’s energy and water sectors from simulated cyber attacks.
“The opportunity that was given to us for networking and competing at this level is really important,” Williams said. “Our students were given a lot of great exposure through all of this.”
Cyber attacks have become more and more common in a nation that relies primarily on technology operate its many facets, including energy and military, and where most major companies are fully computerized.
“To put it bluntly, the students competing in this competition are likely the people who will someday provide cyber defense to keep major companies operating or even keep a major catastrophe from taking place within our nation,” Rogers explained prior to the competition.
The College has already been invited back to next year’s competition.
Rogers said he would like to thank Lora Hines, Logan’s department chair for Business, Computer Science, and Mathematics, and Stephanie Hartford, dean of Academic Affairs, along with other administrators and all the members of the College’s board of trustees for their encouragement to the team.