WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Seth Manesse of Utah State University as the winner of its sixth annual CyberForce Competition™, held on November 14. The event challenged 201 individual entrants from 36 U.S. states to compete in a realistic all-day cybersecurity defense exercise.

Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette applauded the competitors, as well as everyone involved in the competition: “The students demonstrated exceptional problem-solving skills and excelled at both defending and sustaining operations of their systems. Thank you to all who contributed to making our first-ever virtual CyberForce a huge success.”

“CyberForce competitors are our Nation's next generation of cyber defenders,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes. “These students may one day work on the front lines defending our critical energy infrastructure – that's why we challenge them through attacks by top cyber professionals.”

Each CyberForce Competition presents a real-world scenario in which participants must defend   a virtual infrastructure against threats modeled on those faced by the energy sector today. The 2020 scenario involved a fictitious wind energy company in charge of over 20,000 megawatts of electricity generation that had been experiencing abnormal network activity.

“The American cybersecurity workforce is facing a gap in talent, and this competition is an exciting, engaging part of helping to fill that gap,” said Nick Andersen, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER). “Every year, we see incredibly promising students competing in the CyberForce Competition, and this year was no exception.”

DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory has hosted the CyberForce Competition since 2016 and managed the 2020 virtual competition on behalf of DOE’s CESER. Also helping to oversee this year’s event were DOE’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratory.

“Though this year's competition was held virtually, it lost nothing in terms of suspense and impressive performances,” said Amanda Joyce, CyberForce Competition director and cybersecurity analysis group lead at Argonne. “The students who accepted the challenge of competing as individuals, rather than in teams as in previous years, have bright futures in the cybersecurity field.”

Winners of the 2020 CyberForce Competition are:

1st Place: Seth Manesse, Utah State University

2nd Place: Michael Roberts, University of Central Florida

3rd Place: Alexander Nead-Work, Oregon State University

4th Place: Anna Andler, DePaul University

5th Place: Sears Schulz, Carnegie Mellon University

For more information about the CyberForce Competition, visit https://cyberforcecompetition.com/.


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