Minnesota IT Experts Compete in Cyber Aces State Championship

Inver Architecture

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton proclaims March 15, 2014, Cyber Aces Day

Inver Hills Community College hosted the Minnesota Cyber Aces State Championship, Saturday, March 15, 2014, on the college’s main campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. Kevin Gyolai, Ph.D., dean of STEM at Inver Hills, marked the competition as a huge success. “We had absolutely zero technical issues, which was not the case in the other states,” Gyolai said with a thank you to the college’s IT department. “We had twenty-four participants, including college students, veterans and jobseekers. Our participants scored very well overall, indicating that we have wonderful local talent.”

Gyolai noted that Inver Hills students dominated the competition, with Christopher Blake, a student in the Network Technology and Security program, taking first place, and Jason Lachowsky, a Web content manager at IHCC and Dakota County Technical College, taking third place. The top three winners were awarded scholarships.

“Both Chris and Jason made it to Level Three of Four, which is outstanding,” Gyolai added. “We had a wonderful ethics panel discussion that included representatives from Unisys, the FBI and IHCC. James Brown, a network administrator at the college, did a great job. Participants indicated a high level of satisfaction with the event.”

Scholarships dollars awarded to the winners of the Minnesota Cyber Aces State Championship were provided through an Xcel Energy STEM Scholarship.

Jason Lachowsky reported that the Cyber Aces competition mimicked the complexity of the cybersecurity environment. “It was quite challenging, and I found myself pondering solutions even after points were no longer being awarded,” he said. “The tutorials leading up to the competition were instructive, but the championship was a chance to hone problem-solving techniques that are difficult to teach. The diverse background of the participants meant that everyone was bringing something a little different to the table; everyone was searching for the same end result, but the path could vary. Though I needed the mental break, the end of the competition left me with bated breath for the next challenge.”

To learn more, read “Cyber Aces State Championship” in Inver Hills Magazine.

Here’s the media release from Cyber Aces:

Minnesota Hackers Find New Home in Cybersecurity
Digital dust settles after statewide elite cyber battle

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., March 15, 2014—The future of national security may lie in the hands of a hacker who competed in a cybersecurity championship this weekend at Inver Hills Community College. The best digital minds from across the state participated in the Minnesota Cyber Aces State Championship at Inver Hills Community College, where students, veterans and jobseekers demonstrated their digital prowess in a defense simulation called SANS NetWars: the same hands-on simulation used by the U.S. military to train its officers in network warfare.

Minnesota’s state champions, from first to third place, are:

  • Christopher Blake, Farmington, Minn. (Blake is a student at Inver Hills Community College)
  • Joseph Kenney, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Jason Lachowsky, St. Paul, Minn. (Lachowsky is a Web content manager at Inver Hills Community College and Dakota County Technical College)

These virtual virtuosos earned their share of $10,000 in scholarships and opportunities for further training. All participants walked away with new information and insights on cybersecurity careers.

This state championship was organized by Cyber Aces, a national nonprofit organization working to discover and develop talent and build pathways to critical cybersecurity jobs. And there is a growing need for qualified candidates. Government agencies and popular businesses are experiencing large-scale cyber attacks at an increasing rate; the Cyberskills Task Force reported an increase of 200 percent in 2012. Recent breaches include the U.S. Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Snapchat and Target.

As former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in her memorandum requesting the creation of the DHS Cyberskills Task Force, “Enhancing the Nation’s cybersecurity requires a departmental workforce with specialized knowledge and skill.”

“There are too many frequent flyers and not enough fighter pilots,” said Cyber Aces Founder Alan Paller, Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Cybersecurity Co-Chair and SANS Institute Director of Research. “We need a new group of cyber defenders who can out-think and out-maneuver attackers.”
“In two years, they’ll have the skills that will make them some of the most sought-after candidates on the job market,” added Paller.

To recognize Cyber Aces and its mission, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed March 15, 2014, Cyber Aces Day.

About Cyber Aces

Cyber Aces discovers talent and provides a pathway to employment in critical cybersecurity jobs. The organization challenges students, veterans and jobseekers with competitions, develops their abilities with competitions, develops their abilities with cybersecurity education and prepares them for cybersecurity careers. Cyber Aces is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. To learn more visit Cyber Aces.

Cyber Aces
8120 Woodmont Ave, Suite 205
Bethesda, MD 20814


For more information about Cyber Aces, contact:

Adam Ritchie
Cyber Aces Media Contact

For more information about the Cyber Aces State Championship at Inver Hills Community College, contact:

Admissions Team
Toll-free: 866-576-0689

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *