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UC Davis Takes Home the Gold in Berkeley Lab-Hosted Regional CyberForce Competition

December 3, 2018


Four teams of students from California colleges competed in the December 1 CyberForce Competition at Berkeley Lab, organized by NERSC staff and volunteers. (Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)

In a face-off between four university teams from California hosted at Berkeley Lab and more than 60 teams representing six other national labs, the University of Central Florida emerged as the national winner of the U.S. Department of Energy's fourth annual CyberForce Competition. The simulcast event took place on Saturday, Dec. 1, in Shyh Wang Hall, with some 50 volunteers from NERSC and other parts of Berkeley Lab supporting the day-long event. This was Berkeley Lab's first year participating in the event.

Berkeley Lab's student teams - which came from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Cal State University San Bernardino, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - vied against hundreds of students representing Argonne, Brookhaven, Idaho, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia National Laboratories in a virtual race against time to protect a simulated industrial oil pipeline control system from hackers. The team from UC Davis came in first in the regional competition hosted at Berkeley Lab, and fifth overall in the national competition.

In the competition, student teams engaged in interactive, energy-focused scenario activities centered on cybersecurity methods, practices, strategy, policy, and ethics – all while defending their network against a team of “hackers” played by security professionals and government representatives.

“With the ever-increasing amount of technology that relies on and is accessible via the Internet, cybersecurity has become a high priority for the DOE, and it is critical that we help train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to ensure they are prepared to meet this need,” said Horst Simon, Berkeley Lab’s Deputy Director for Research.


NERSC's Brent Draney led Berkeley Lab's participation in the annual CyberForce Competition. (Paul Mueller/Berkeley Lab)

Each national lab’s regional winner and DOE’s national winner took home a medal. All teams had the option to take home the high-performance cluster and industrial control system that they configured for the competition.

According to Brent Draney, who leads the networking and security group at NERSC and served as the Lab’s site lead in organizing the event, all students, whether they won or lost, also took home something else: real-world experience in a national lab setting. “With this event, we’re hoping to build a pipeline of students who care about cybersecurity in a national lab environment and get them inspired to work at Berkeley Lab,” he said. More than 50 volunteers from NERSC and other parts of Berkeley Lab participated in the day-long event.

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About NERSC and Berkeley Lab
The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility that serves as the primary high performance computing center for scientific research sponsored by the Office of Science. Located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NERSC serves almost 10,000 scientists at national laboratories and universities researching a wide range of problems in climate, fusion energy, materials science, physics, chemistry, computational biology, and other disciplines. Berkeley Lab is a DOE national laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. »Learn more about computing sciences at Berkeley Lab.