Coding the Future of Cybersecurity

Breaking into a multi-billion-dollar industry is seemingly no easy feat. Unless you can hack your way in, that is. Gannon University has tapped into the cyber industry with new innovative programs in cybersecurity and cyber engineering, a new facility and its first Hackathon Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition.

By bringing this field of study to Gannon and infusing expert resources into the local economy, the University is creating tremendous opportunities for students- and the region- in an industry faced with a rapid need for trained experts across a multitude of professions. Students, faculty and alumni alike have matched the University’s enthusiasm for getting involved in this new venture at Gannon.

A Knack for Hacking Leads to Full-Tuition Scholarship

Participants in Gannon’s inaugural Hackathon Full-Tuition Scholarship competition are some of the first to engage in new opportunities as a result of the University’s venture into the cyber industry.

The Hackathon welcomed high school freshmen through seniors from 14 states and territories across the country to first participate in one of two virtual competitions as a gateway for the top competitors to be invited to the on-campus Hackathon in May.

Advancing to this level were 29 skilled competitors who participated in a day-long event comprised of educational training and the final competition. Aspirants learned from faculty experts and current graduate students to gain a fundamental understanding of cybersecurity and prepare for the final Hackathon challenges, in which students answered a series of questions and applied their web-based hacking skills to create solutions to challenges simulating real-world cybersecurity threats.

“It’s important to learn outside the classroom, so being able to introduce these students to cybersecurity has been rewarding.”

A Michigan native and junior at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy was awarded the top prize of a full-tuition scholarship to attend Gannon after demonstrating a skillset that set him apart from the competition, earning the highest scores in both the virtual and on-campus events.

The University’s Hackathon platform was designed and built entirely by Gannon faculty and graduate students to enable the competition.

Gannon University Hackathon Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition

Watch a video about the Gannon University Hackathon Full-Tuition Scholarship Competition.

“I helped Dr. Liu develop the Hackathon program and wrote the code to develop our site that the students hacked on,” excitedly and modestly said Brad Gressler, a student in Gannon’s graduate software engineering program. “The site we built used a combination of open-source materials and our own modifications to create the questions and challenges we wanted to demonstrate for the Hackathon.”

“My classroom experience was very helpful and I’ve learned a lot about hacking and cybersecurity working with the professors on this project. It’s important to learn outside the classroom, so being able to introduce these students to cybersecurity has been rewarding.”

From designing the mock platforms, to competing in the Hackathon, the high school competitors and graduate engineering students all gained valuable hands-on experience with the necessary skills to protect real companies and create secure systems to prevent cyberattacks.

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Gannon Magazine is published bi-annually by University Marketing and Communications.

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