The Charger Blog

University’s Connecticut Institute of Technology to Host Prestigious Cybersecurity Competition

The Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) event will bring teams from nine institutions, as far away as Texas, to compete at the University of New Haven. They will gain exciting real-world experience, collaborating in the role of professional penetration testers.

October 27, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

University of New Haven’s Hacking team
The University of New Haven’s Hacking team. Left to right: Ronald Scarpa ’25, Will Turner ’24 M.S., Jonathan Chute ’25, Nick Dubois ’24, Jordan Saleh ’24, Ryan Stapleton ’25.

For Jarred Foley ’24, the upcoming Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) New England Regional event at the University of New Haven is about more than cybersecurity. It’s about growth, teamwork, and leadership. And he can’t wait to welcome teams from schools around the region – and beyond – to compete at the University.

A cybersecurity and networks major, Foley is helping lead the charge of planning the event. Whether he’s managing t-shirt purchases or interacting with the teams to ascertain their needs, he says it’s been a great experience.

As he’s helped plan the competition, Foley has drawn on his background in the U.S. Air Force as a noncommissioned officer in charge of electronic security in Minot, North Dakota. It prepared him for collaborating with the sponsoring organization and the individuals from the institutions who will take part in CPTC.

“This has been a great learning experience,” said Foley. “It has been wonderful to learn from Professor Page as well. She has been so helpful.”

‘Mimics the activities of real-world penetration tests’

Liberty Page, M.S. is serving as the event host, and Foley has been her assistant planning the program. Prof. Page is excited that the University’s Connecticut Institute of Technology will be hosting a CPTC regional for the fifth time – and she’s been actively involved in hosting the event each of those years. This year’s competition will be held on campus on Saturday, November 11, and Sunday, November 12.

The competition enables teams of students to collaborate in the role of professional penetration testers, working for a fictional company. Nine teams, from far away as Texas, will be coming to the University for the competition. Participating teams include Rutgers University, the United States Military Academy, the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, and Northeastern University.

“I am grateful to the Connecticut Institute of Technology in the Tagliatela College of Engineering for sponsoring the 2023 New England Regional Qualifier of the Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition,” said Prof. Page, coordinator of the University’s B.S. in Cybersecurity and Networks program. “I am excited to give students this opportunity to participate in a competition that mimics the activities of real-world penetration tests, including interacting with company representatives, writing up their findings, and presenting their results.

CPTC is a unique real-world collegiate cybersecurity competition. It focuses on evaluating the activities teams are likely to perform during a real penetration-testing task conducted by companies, professional firms, and internal security departments. Students interact with company representatives, prepare a report of their findings, and present their results to a panel of judges from leading companies and organizations, creating exciting networking opportunities.

“The CPTC judges come from some of the top companies in our industry,” said Prof. Page. “I am grateful for RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology), the CPTC Global host, all the volunteers from industry, and our faculty and students for supporting this event.”

‘This is great for the University’

The University’s own hacking team will be competing in the event. Jonathan Chute ’25, ’26 M.S., the team’s captain, has been meeting with his teammates each week to prepare for the competition. While many of them are experienced in cybersecurity, for some, this is their first such competition.

“I have a lot of faith in our abilities,” said Chute, a cybersecurity and networks major. “We’re all close, and there’s a lot of camaraderie between us. As captain, I look to them for ideas, and we learn from each other.”

The champion of the regional competition will qualify for the CPTC global competition, and the runner-up teams will also have the opportunity to qualify as a wild card. The Chargers Hacking Team has previously captured second place at the regional, and they’re aiming to place in this year’s competition as well.

Regardless of where the team places, Chute says it’s a big deal that the University is hosting it. He’s excited to welcome visiting teams to the University.

“This is great for the University, and it puts us front and center,” he said. “We are a strong cybersecurity school, and that’s important. The fact that this competition is hosted on our campus is very important to the University.”

‘An environment for learning’

The event is already attracting support and excitement across the University, as dozens of volunteers have signed on to be a part of the event, including many graduate students. Foley, the event planner, was excited by how many of his fellow Chargers wanted to be involved. He hopes CPTC is a rewarding and fun event for all of them, as well as for the students who will be competing.

“The whole goal of the competition is to foster an environment for learning in a competitive space,” he said. “If the teams take away something new or make connections with other schools, that’s what we’re hoping to help foster. That’s what I’d like to see.”