The Robert Strauss Center at The University of Texas at Austin partnered with the Atlantic Council’s Cyber Statecraft Initiative to host a “regional” round of the Atlantic Council’s renowned cybersecurity policy competition on January 10th and 11th, 2019. Thirteen teams competed in this exciting two-day competition, including teams from the University of Texas at Austin, United States Military Academy, University of Houston, Texas A&M University, and Brown University. The Competition was an excellent proving ground for UT graduate students participating in the Strauss Center’s Integrated Cybersecurity Studies program.
Stay tuned for details about the 2nd Annual Austin Regional in January 2020!
2019 Austin Regional Winners
1st place: Scarifs ISOs (University of Texas at Austin)
2nd place: Team RUH-roh (Rice University/University of Houson)
3rd place: The Cadets (United States Military Academy)
How does the competition work?
This is a simulation-based, judge-graded competition in which teams consisting of three to four students (who can be either graduate students or undergraduate students, from any disciplinary background) collaborate to provide policy analysis and recommendations in response to an evolving, fictional fact-pattern relating to cyber crisis and conflict. The competition is designed to reward substantive knowledge across a range of areas, including any number of policy domains as well as insights from technology, business, and law. And of course the competition also rewards both written and spoken communication skills. The event is on the record and proceedings may be photographed and recorded for public use.
The competition revolves around a fictional simulated cyberattack scenario that evolves over the course of the competition, prompting teams to modify their policy priorities and recommendations as part of their written and oral presentations. We will distribute a set of fictional materials explaining the initial version of the scenario (along with guidelines for drafting the written response that teams must submit prior to the competition) on the same day that we announce which teams have been selected to participate in the competition. Each teams will draft written policy briefs in response to this initial scenario, and those written responses must be submitted at a later determined date. The written submissions will be scored as part of the grade for the first round of the competition (and recognition will be given to the best written submission). The rest of the first-round grade will be determined by the oral presentations that will then occur on the competition’s first live day. The oral presentation for each team begins with a ten-minute presentation to judges based on the written brief, followed by ten minutes of answering questions from the judges. The judges’ score of the qualifying round oral presentations will be combined with the team score from the more detailed written policy brief submitted in advance of the competition, and approximately ten teams will advance to the semi-final round on day two based on those combined results.
We will announce the semi-finalists at a reception at the end of day one, and at that point we also will distribute an updated intelligence report that expands upon the original scenario. The semi-finalist teams will then have the evening to refine and amend their analysis as they deem appropriate, with a new round of oral presentations taking place beginning on the morning of day two. Three finalist teams will be selected based on the results of that round, and at that point they will receive a third and final intelligence report, detailing further changes to the scenario. The finalist teams will have only a very short amount of time to use the new information to revise their policy responses. The finalists then will deliver a ten minute oral presentation, followed by ten minutes to answer direct questions from a panel of judges.
Who can participate?
You apply as a team. Each team must have at least three, but no more than four, student members. Anyone who is a current student at the graduate or undergraduate level, without respect to the nature of your degree program, qualifies. Each team also must identify a faculty member or other professional who will serve as their coach. The coach need not attend the live component of the event in person, though this is certainly welcome.
What is the prize?
There are cash prizes for the student members of all three teams that reach the final round of the competition. In 2019, the overall winning team received a total $2000 honorarium. The second-place team received $1000. The third-place team received $500. The student members of all three finalist teams also received a starter-library of cybersecurity-related books.
Deadline to apply?
Stay tuned for the 2020 Austin Regional deadline!
How to apply?
A form will appear here once the call for teams opens.
Do we have to pay to participate?
No, the event itself is free. The Strauss Center and the Atlantic Council will bear all costs for hosting and orchestrating it, including providing breakfast, lunch, and snacks for both days. Unfortunately, we cannot also fund travel, hotel, or other costs of getting to and staying in Austin for the event.
How does this relate to the “national” Atlantic Council competition?
The winning team is guaranteed admission to the national competition, hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, later in the spring. The other teams of course remain free to apply for admission to the national competition as well. For more details on the national competition, click here.
I have other questions. Whom can I contact?
See the 2019 rules for the competition, as well as see the FAQ’s if you have any additional questions. For further questions about the Austin regional (event is closed to the public), please contact Ali Prince from the Strauss Center.