Illinois Tech's CyberHawks Win Record-Breaking National Cybersecurity Championship

Illinois Institute of Technology’s cybersecurity student organization CyberHawks won the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Cyber Games National Championship this week with a record-breaking score


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CHICAGO—April 20, 2022—A team of students from Illinois Institute of Technology’s cybersecurity student organization CyberHawks won the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Cyber Games National Championship this week. After winning the Midwest Regional championship by a landslide with a score of almost double the next highest team, the team went on to win the national championship with a record-breaking score. 

Sixty-five teams from 55 colleges competed in the competition overall.

The teams score points through both offensive and defensive measures. At nationals, the CyberHawks approached the competition with a methodical strategy that led to a come-from-behind victory. 

They spent extra time early in the competition creating robust defenses. This early trade-off had them ranked around fifth place for most of the competition, but it became the key to their climb to victory as they continued to gain a steady stream of points while other teams faltered.  

The CyberHawks were the first team to ever earn more than 5000 points in the competition, and they were the first team in Midwest Regionals history to receive the maximum possible number of points in the offensive portion.

“This competition was primarily focused on good teamwork and building up hands-on practical skills that would be beneficial in the real world,” says Sajeel Mehta (M.A.S. ITM 1st Year), who served as team leader for the competition.

“Competitions are an important part of the CyberHawks activities as they provide our members with the chance to practice their cybersecurity skills against professional penetration testers without the high-stakes environment out in the field,” says David Arnold (EE ’19, M.S CPE ’19, Ph.D. CPE Candidate), president of CyberHawks.

At nationals, Illinois Tech’s team featured engineering and computing students across the cybersecurity disciplines, including Mehta, Aurélien Agniel (M.A.S. CYBS 1st Year), Mohammed Chisti (CS, M.A.S. CYF 5th Year), My Dinh (CS 5th Year), John Ford (CCSE, M.S. CPE 3rd Year), Sarah Hugue (M.A.S. CYBS 1st Year), Ryan Timothy Rishab (M.A.S. CYBS 1st Year), Kreetha Sintawee (M.A.S. CYF 1st Year), and Wyatt Stevens (CS 1st Year).

Agniel, Ford, and Stevens led the team’s defensive measures by configuring network resources and establishing security within a virtual network. They received points based on how long their defenses held up against periodic infiltration attempts by professionals. 

The CyberHawks were the only team within the Midwest Regional competition to successfully get every required service running as part of the service setup and defense. 

Chisti, Dinh, Hugue, Rishab, Sintawee, and Mehta collaborated on the offensive strategy, earning points by completing challenges that tested their cryptography, exploitation, administration, programming, and cybersecurity knowledge.

Stevens received the CyberHawks Team Leadership Award at both the national and regional competitions. 

“Illinois Tech is a great place to study cybersecurity due to the amazing faculty and exposure to different education styles provided by the computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and information and technology management departments. Students can also get involved with the Illinois Tech CyberHawks to collaborate with other students on projects, explore new topics, and build on the foundation provided by the Illinois Tech coursework,” says Arnold.

The CyberHawks faculty advisor is Adjunct Faculty and Laboratory Engineer Won-Jae Yi.

The team has been invited to attend the National Institute for Cyber Education (NICE) Conference that will take place in Atlanta in June 2022.

Photo: Network simulation of the competition environment

National Champion CyberHawks


A team of students from Illinois Institute of Technology’s cybersecurity student organization CyberHawks won the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Cyber Games National Championship. They are pictured, from left to right: Mohammed Chisti, Sajeel Mehta, Ryan Timothy Rishab, Wyatt Stevens, Aurelien Agniel, Sarah Hugue, John Ford, Kreetha Sintawee, and My Dinh. 


Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused research university. Illinois Tech is the only university of its kind in Chicago, and its Chicago location offers students access to the world-class resources of a great global metropolis. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. One of 22 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities, Illinois Tech provides an exceptional education centered on active learning, and its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Illinois Tech uniquely prepares students to succeed in professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.  Visit

Armour College of Engineering

Armour College of Engineering has been educating world-class engineers since the university’s founding in 1890. As future engineers who will innovate in the twenty-first century, Armour students learn the principles of the profession and work in an interdisciplinary environment that emphasizes hands-on learning, teamwork, and leadership, all through the lens of our four engineering themes—water, health, energy, and security—that highlight issues vital today and in the future. Armour is home to five departments and nine ABET-accredited undergraduate majors, which provide a wide breadth of exciting programs from which to choose. Illinois Tech alumni have advanced to careers as presidents of companies and professors at major universities—and have become members of the National Academy of Engineering, the highest distinction in the field.

College of Computing

Illinois Tech created the College of Computing in 2020 as part of an effort to drive Chicago’s thriving tech ecosystem by educating a future diverse workforce that is rigorously trained in data and computation. Illinois Tech is home to the Midwest's only Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence degree, and the numerous cybersecurity and intelligence pathways at Illinois Tech explore not only the deep foundations of fast-growing fields of computer science, but also emphasize societal ethics in developing this technology. The United States Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have designated Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The university’s Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education (C2SAFE) is at the core of Illinois Tech’s designation. Additionally, the center is a member of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Academic Alliance and North American Defense and Security Academic Alliance (NADSAA).

Media contact

Petra Kelly
Communications Manager
Illinois Institute of Technology
Cell: 773-771-1064