Powerhouse defense contractor Raytheon and students from the University of Virginia received praise from Gov. Ralph Northam Tuesday during his visit to Raytheon's offices in Dulles.
Raytheon staff gave a tour to the governor and introduced him to the University of Virginia’s Cyber Defense Team -- the champion of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense competition.
“It’s just wonderful for you all to have sponsored this competition. And to the UVA students that have participated, congratulations for a job well done,” said Northam (D).
More than 230 teams entered the cyber defense competition, but only 10 regional finalists earned a spot in April’s nationals in Orlando. Virginia competed against teams from the University of Alaska, Buffalo, Washington, Seattle, Central Florida, Baylor, Indiana Tech, Dakota State, Utah Valley University and California State University Northridge.
In March, the UVA team earned a spot in nationals after defeating last year’s national champion, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. UMBC dethroned Central Florida that won titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
“Our students were focused and diligent in preparing for this challenge, because they are passionate about becoming leaders in cybersecurity,” Kevin Skadron, chairman of the Computer Science Department in UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, said in a prepared statement. “It is a testament to their talent, and the support they received from Professor Ibrahim, that they won the national title the first year they participated.”
Virginia earned the highest score while posing as a professional cybersecurity team defending Volitech, a fictional biotech company’s network. The team earned points for keeping their networks running, repelling hackers, handling continuous technical tasks and explaining security breaches and how to fix them.
Virginia earned the NCCDC Alamo Cup and an opportunity to tour some of the nation’s top research and national cybersecurity sites with event partner Raytheon.
"The NCCDC program brings academia, government and industry together in a unique way," said Dwayne Williams, director of the NCCDC in a prepared statement. "Everyone recognizes we need to find and train more cyber professionals and these competitions are critical in helping meet that need."
Northam, the national champions and state Del. Kathleen J. Murphy (D-34th) toured Raytheon’s facility during Tuesday's visit. During his address at the facility, the governor said he hopes Virginia can continue to develop partnerships with contracting powerhouses like Raytheon.
“We do it by supporting the business community in Virginia and really training individuals for the 21st century workforce,” Northam said.
The governor added that he hopes more women will consider joining the career field -- just like rising senior Mariah Kenny. She led the Virginia team as captain, bringing the school its first national cyber defense championship.
“I think it’s definitely something that needs to happen,” Kenny said. “There are a lot of efforts that are going to it and I’m for it. We need more people in the workforce in general because everyone has different perspectives on cybersecurity and it’s important to have those to solve different challenges.”
Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services, which is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, specializes in defense, civil government and cybersecurity solutions. The global company provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration, C5I products and services, sensing, effects and mission support services since its establishment in 1922.
Raytheon has 64,000 employees worldwide in 19 countries and saw $25 billion in sales in 2017, according the company. The company expanded to Virginia in 2010.