A team of UCF students has taken first place in a North America cyberdefense competition and been invited to compete in the Global Cyberlympics world finals in the Netherlands – if they can raise the money to get there.

The students are members of UCF’s Collegiate Cyber Defense Club, better known as Hack@UCF. The club has built a national reputation after fielding competitive teams that won three consecutive national championships in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Earlier this month, a student team led by Matthew St. Hubin entered the online North American Global Cyberlympics competition, facing a series of challenges including digital forensics, system exploitation, reverse engineering, cryptography and more. It was the first time these students had entered the competition, but they placed in the top 10 worldwide and first in North America, beating a long list of teams including some made up of professionals from top tech companies.

“An academic team winning a competition like this that has teams from big corporations is pretty impressive,” St. Hubin said.

St. Hubin and fellow team members Andrew Hughes, David Maria, Ryan Christopher Meinke, Noah Al-Shihabi and Robert Paul Tonic earned a spot in the world finals that take place Sept. 27 in The Hague in the Netherlands. A gofundme page has been launched to help them raise the travel funds to make it to the competition.

“This trip isn’t corporate-sponsored. We’re just college students and it’s a big cost for us,” St. Hubin said. “Every day that goes by the flight tickets increase, so the clock is definitely ticking for us.”