Tech takes national stage in Cyber FastTrack program

COOKEVILLE – Tennessee Tech students play the serious game of cybersecurity at a national level, ranking in the top 25 nationally out of more than 1,200 in a recent competition. 

Tech cybersecurity students currently rank 21st nationally and second in the state of Tennessee among hundreds of colleges and universities competing in the 2019 Governors’ Cybersecurity Talent Competition.

“This is a testament to the hard work and talented students we have in our cybersecurity program at Tennessee Tech,” said Eric Brown, assistant director of Tech’s Cybersecurity, Education, Research and Outreach Center. “These students continually display the qualities that help make our cybersecurity program one of the best in the nation.”

Launched in April by 25 state governors across the nation and the SANS Institute, the Cyber FastTrack program is the first step in a national initiative to close the U.S. cybersecurity gap. Cyber FastTrack gives thousands of students a way to “play a game” to discover their aptitude to excel in the field.

More than 13,000 students started playing the game and by mid-May 2,400 of them had reached the quarterfinal round. Tech had 47 students try Cyber FastTrack, and 19 of those have advanced to the quarterfinals. Tech’s percentage (40.43 percent) of students who qualified out of those who competed, is the highest in the state among schools who had five or more students compete.

“We were 21st in the nation out of 1,291 schools,” said Brown. “While we did not have the number of participants that other schools did, our kill rate for the number of students which participated dominated the competition.”

In response to the critical shortage and high national demand for highly trained professionals in cybersecurity, the National Science Foundation awarded Tech a $4.3 million grant in 2016 through CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service program. 

The CyberCorps grant provide scholarships for 26 Tech students over a five-year period. The students complete their advanced degree in cybersecurity in Tech’s computer science program and afterwards are expected to secure a position with government and national labs to defend the nation in the cyberspace. Tech is among an elite list of 76 higher education institutions in the nation who run this program.

The ultimate prize of the Cyber FastTrack competition is $2.5 million in scholarships, and direct introductions to employers for internships and employment.

The full set of college rankings, by state, is posted at

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