Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) announced the winner of the 2023 CyberForce® Conquer the Hill: Adventurer Edition Competition. The heart-pounding, seven-hour challenge featured a virtual, individual mission that tested collegiate participants’ cyber knowledge, skills, and abilities through the use of anomalies. On Saturday, April 15, the Conqueror of the Hill for the Adventurer Competition seized victory ahead of 120 total competitors from accredited U.S. universities: Cameron Whitehead, from the University of Central Florida!

“The Department of Energy’s CyberForce Program is dedicated to developing the highly skilled workforce we need to protect and defend our nation's critical energy infrastructure," said CESER’s Deputy Director for Preparedness, Policy, and Risk Analysis, Mara Winn. “We are proud to invest in these unique, hands-on opportunities to educate and challenge the next generation of energy cybersecurity professionals.”

In the Conquer the Hill: Adventurer Competition, students worked to complete anomalies mapped to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Framework during an energy industry-related adventure. Competitors were presented with a variety of easy, medium, and difficult cyber challenges that they could tackle up to three times in any order they wished. The competitor who successfully completed the most challenges and earned the highest number of points was crowned the winner.

“These smaller individual competitions are fun because they give students a lot more in-depth time to evaluate different areas of cybersecurity that they might not see in school,” said Amanda Theel, who leads the CyberForce Program at Argonne National Laboratory. “Students can build cybersecurity skills and interests in areas they weren’t aware they liked or had an interest in, such as logs, forensics, or encryption.”

Conquer the Hill: Adventurer Edition is the former of two smaller, virtual, individual-based competitions in the CyberForce Program, which precede DOE’s team-based competition in the Fall. The next competition in the series will be the Conquer the Hill: Reign Edition, which will take place in July and will be themed as an escape room. Registration for this competition will open on June 1 and will remain open until June 30.

The CyberForce Program began in 2016, and the single event program has expanded every year since to feature the flagship CyberForce Competition®, two virtual Conquer the Hill competitions (Adventurer and Reign Editions), informational webinars, an annual virtual career fair, and an online workforce portal where students can learn about upcoming CyberForce events, opportunities, and trainings. These continual expansions demonstrate DOE’s fervent drive toward the Biden Administration’s goal of fostering the next generation of cyber defenders and bolstering the United States’ defensive posture against ever evolving cyberthreats.

CyberForce® began as a cyber defense competition in 2016 with eight competing teams and grew to more than one hundred teams in 2019. It added virtual participation as an option in 2020 and 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today the CyberForce Program offers many opportunities for the next generation of cyber professionals to advance their cyber skills. To learn more, visit