The University of Central Florida’s three-time national champion student cyberdefense club has landed a sponsorship from Northrop Grumman.
The global security company is donating $75,000 to the Collegiate Cyber Defense Club – also known as Hack@UCF — to further its success.
“We are very, very excited,” said club president Heather Lawrence, who is pursuing a doctorate in computer engineering at UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. “The sponsorship comes with so much more than just money. It means training and support from Northrop Grumman’s experts that you really can’t put a price on.”
Northrop Grumman provides innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, C4ISR, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide. The company has facilities and employees around the world and in the Florida cities of Orlando, Melbourne, Apopka, St. Augustine and Pensacola.
Northrop Grumman and the Northrop Grumman Foundation are committed to supporting cyber security education, training, technology and workforce development. The Northrop Grumman Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot high school and middle school competition, and that expertise will now help the UCF students. Company executives joined Hack@UCF officers at a recent club meeting to announce the partnership.
“As a leading provider of full-spectrum cyber solutions to the U.S. government and allied nations, we understand the dynamic, global and complex nature of the cyber threat,” said Mike Papay, vice president and chief information security officer for Northrop Grumman. “Supporting cyber competitions and academic institutions like UCF that are helping educate tomorrow’s workforce is an important part of our efforts to help reduce the critical shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals.”
The Collegiate Cyber Defense Club, which is a registered student organization, fields teams of students who face off with students from other colleges at regional and national competitions. A UCF team has won the Southeastern regional competition and the national championship for the past three years, and is currently the defending champ.
The funding from Northrop Grumman will allow the club to field more teams and send more students to more competitions.
“It costs money to travel, especially when you send multiple teams to competitions,” Lawrence said. “It really adds up.”
But the sponsorship goes beyond competing. Most Hack@UCF students major in computer science or computer engineering. It can cost thousands of dollars for classes to earn various certifications in those fields beyond their college degrees. Northrop Grumman has offered to provide training to students so they can pursue certifications without having to pay for costly classes.