University of North Georgia (UNG) reports student, Taylor Hitt, one of 25 competitors drafted Oct. 5 for the inaugural US Cyber Team.
Hitt is a senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in cybersecurity. He is one of five alternates who earned the final spots on the team.
The US Cyber Team will take part in the International Cybersecurity Challenge (ICC) June 14-17 in Athens, Greece.
"It's still sinking in that I made the team," Hitt said. "I knew this was going to be a challenge, but the cybersecurity courses at UNG and the activities with our CyberHawks student club set me up for success."
Hitt was one of six students from UNG who made the US Cyber Combine, which pitted the final 60 team hopefuls between July 9 and Sept. 3.
The competitors underwent a cybersecurity aptitude evaluation, interviewed with multiple coaches, trained weekly in cybersecurity skills, and competed in an advanced cyber challenge.
Those 60 had advanced from the U.S. Cyber Open, held from May 28-June 11, that included a wide variety of games such as cryptography, networking, web applications, and reconnaissance.
"You have to put in the daily two or three hours of more training on cyber challenges to be ready for the competition," Hitt said. "The smartest people make these tasks even tougher than what they see in their field. If you can do challenges well, you're ready for real-world problems."
Dr. Bryson Payne, UNG professor of computer science and coordinator of student cybersecurity programs, is one of the coaches for the US Cyber Team.
"It means a lot to have a UNG student on the US Cyber Team," Payne said. "It keeps UNG on the map in cybersecurity at the highest level of competition. This is also a great next step for Taylor to help launch his career."
In addition to technical proficiency, Hitt showed teamwork, mentorship, and leadership skills throughout the competitions, Payne said.
Competitors for both the U.S. and international portions of the ICC are between the ages of 18 and 26, and most are undergraduate and graduate students.