CNIT Cybersecurity Team wins 1st Place at Western Regional CPTC

By Hannah Asuncion 


The Computer Networking and Information Technology(CNIT) Cybersecurity Team, led by instructors Sam Bowne and Elizabeth Biddlecome won the Western Regional Collegiate PenTesting Competition during the weekend of Oct. 24-25. They competed against teams from major universities like Stanford, Cal Poly, UC Riverside, and UC San Diego.


The CNIT Cybersecurity Team has been competing in multiple competitions, which were also against major colleges and universities. In the past they have placed, but this year is their first time coming in first. 

Instructor Elizabeth Biddlecome takes this opportunity to check City College’s network while on campus. San Francisco, CA. Nov. 14, 2020. Photo by Melvin Wong/The Guardsman.


According to the Department Chair of Computer Networking and Information Technology Richard Taha, the department provides various courses for all types of students. It varies from high school graduates to students who decide to change their careers to older adults who either have been laid off or are thinking of leaving their dead-end jobs.


Taha talks about the CPTC award and how “Like most awards, these awards help the individuals directly first.  The second area of help is that it establishes our reputation as a premier institution of higher technology. The participants could apply for better positions in Cybersecurity and we will get more students enrolled who realize that there is a local college providing nationally recognized education in Cybersecurity.”


Aside from Cybersecurity and Network Security, there are multiple programs that lead to other areas in employment like Cloud Administration, Web Development, CISCO Technology, Microsoft Support, and Technical Support. 


Students can also attend the basic networking classes or at least have equivalent experience then proceed to take one of these classes. All these classes have programs, which provide options to receive either a Certificate of Achievement or an Associate of Science Degree.


“We used to have meetings on campus; now that we are all remote due to the pandemic, we must do things a bit differently. Students typically join the team Discord to chat with existing members and find events that interest them. This may change in the future,” said Biddlecome.


Most team practices are open to anyone who is interested, but due to the pandemic, all the practice sessions are held online. “Practicing along with the team is a great way to get involved and learn more about participating in various competitions.”


Usually, there are 6-8 students per team which are typically selected before each registration for competitions. They are selected “based on several criteria, including technical and non-technical skills, good sportspersonship, ability to collaborate well, eligibility based on enrollment, and availability.” 

Computer Networking and Information Technology (CNIT) instructor Elizabeth Biddlecome makes her way through campus after not having set foot in it since the beginning of the pandemic. San Francisco, CA. Nov. 14, 2020. Photo by Melvin Wong/The Guardsman.

“The team has won awards at CPTC and other competitions in the past. This is the first time CCSF has won first place at regionals (we have previously come in second and third at past CPTC regionals, and won an IEEE-sponsored prize at nationals). This is the first time any team has ever beaten Stanford!”


Dante Alabastro Co-Captain of the CNIT Cybersecurity Team mentioned how their primary focus as a team was to improve their communication and coordination skills beyond their technical skills. They made sure that the whole team was on the same page during the entire competition. 

Computer Networking and Information Technology (CNIT) Cybersecurity Team Co-Captain Dante Alabastro regales the story of his team’s recent first place victory at the Western Regional Collegiate PenTesting Competition. San Francisco, CA. Nov. 14, 2020. Photo by Melvin Wong/The Guardsman.

The team was very surprised at their first-place victory since there were “such incredible teams” in the Western Region like Stanford, who was this year’s host for the competition. 


“The whole community has always been so supportive and we’re very lucky to be able to take part in it. The team is incredibly excited to move on to nationals this year and are ready to take what we have learned to the next level! We’ve been refining our process and plan on performing even stronger at nationals,” Alabastro said. 


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