April 7, 2017

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.