From commencement to research to cyberdefense, these are the top headlines for UCF this week.

1. Cyberdefense Success

For the second straight year, UCF’s cyberdefense club, Hack@UCF, placed second in the country at the 2019 National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition sponsored by Raytheon, the world’s largest competition of its kind. The team’s strong performance comes on the heels of its first-place finish in December’s U.S. Department of Energy’s CyberForce National Competition.

2. Inclusive Education

Thirteen students left their mark at UCF when they became the first class from the university’s Inclusive Education Services program to graduate. Launched in August 2015, the certificate program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities provides a college experience for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity. UCF is one of three public universities in the state with an approved Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program recognized by the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities. Click to read more and watch a video.

3. DirectConnect to UCF Celebrates Milestone

UCF awarded its 50,000th degree to a DirectConnect student in early May. The program, which started in 2006 and became a national model, guarantees admission to UCF for graduates of six state colleges in an effort to expand access to all students. In 2018 alone, enrollment included 2,379 minority students, 1,647 first-generation students and 3,180 Pell-eligible students from low-income families.

4. Data That Heals

Orlando is rapidly becoming a hub for technological advances in the healthcare field, and UCF’s research, labs and incubator at its Lake Nona Medical City is helping lead the way. Forbes magazine recently published the university’s crucial work in mining data and innovating technology to improve health outcomes and the nation’s healthcare system in general.

5. Attack of the Zombie Ants

Deep in the Amazon rainforest, parasitic fungi take over ants’ bodies and use the insects as hosts in order to reproduce. A UCF biology professor is one of the world’s experts on zombie ants. She and the ants were featured in an episode of the National Geographic Channel series, Hostile Planet.