Students from over 180 colleges across the U.S. started showcase cyber skills in the 2016 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (NCCDC) tournament running from early March to April, the sponsor Raytheon [RTN] said last week.

The NCCDC starts with 10 regional events culminating with the winning teams meeting at the national competition in San Antonio, Texas, on April 22-24. It is generally aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation of cyber defense experts, Raytheon said.

NCCDC raytheon logo

The regional competitions occur in separate 2-3- day periods:

  • March 4-5: Rocky Mountain CCDC, Regis University, Denver, Colo.
  • March 11-13: Northeast CCDC, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
  • March 12-13: Southwest CCDC, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas.
  • March 18-20: At Large CCDC, RAVE Lab (virtual/remote)
  • March 18-20: Western CCDC, Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona, Calif.
  • March 31-April 2: Mid-Atlantic CCDC, Johns Hopkins University Physics Lab, Laurel, Md.
  • April 1-2: Mid-West CCDC, Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, Ill.
  • April 1-2: North Central Regional CCDC, Dakota State University, Madison, S.D.
  • April 1-3: Pacific Rim CCDC, Highline Community College, Des Moines, Wash.
  • April 6-7: Southeast CCDC, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Ga.

“The risk to nations’ networks are complex and is the driving force that propels Raytheon to take action to help build our cyber talent pipeline with this national competition,” David Wajsgras, president of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business, said in a statement.

The NCCDC was founded in 2005 by the University of Texas San Antonio’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security. It has grown to include qualifying, state, and regional level competitions. The competition is meant to model real-world commercial business environments where teams are challenged to keep a company’s services running while under constant cyber attacks, Raytheon said.

Students win the competition by securing and maintaining servers and workstations, manage data, administer users, and perform common business-related and administrative tasks while also fending off attacks from a live opposition team.

“NCCDC relies on partners such as Raytheon to augment classroom learning with real-world experience for our participating students, so they can better understand how cyber theory might actually be applied over the course of their careers,” Dwayne Williams, director of NCCDC, said in a statement

The University of Central Florida won the 2014 and the 2015 NCCDC. Raytheon offered internships to each winning team student and also took them to Washington, D.C., to tour research and national cybersecurity sites like the Department of Homeland Security, National Cryptologic Museum at the National Security Agency, and Raytheon’s labs.

In 2014 Raytheon became the three-year title sponsor of the NCCDC.