Trenton Taylor

Tops in cyber league event -- Trenton Taylor, a senior from Marion who is in SIU Carbondale’s Information Systems Technologies program, won the spring 2018 National Cyber League individual competition. Taylor will graduate Saturday with a degree in information systems technologies. (Photo by Russell Bailey)

May 11, 2018

Taylor wins individual title in nationwide security challenge

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Trenton Taylor, a senior in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Information Systems Technologies program, recently finished first in a nationwide security challenge. 

Taylor, who is from Marion, earned the No. 1 spot in individual competition in the spring 2018 National Cyber League (NCL), a capture-the-flag-style competition. Taylor competed against more than 3,300 registered college and high school students from across the nation.

“Trent has excelled at both offensive and defensive cybersecurity events while studying in the IST program at SIU,” said Tom Imboden, an associate professor in information systems technologies. “His dedication and commitment to help other students learn has shown to be invaluable as the SIU students participating in the National Cyber League team competitions did quite well. These skills will directly translate over the real world as our graduating seniors get ready to begin their careers.”

‘Security Dawgs’ do well in team event this spring 

In addition to Taylor’s success, two “Security Dawgs” teams also fared well in NCL spring competition. The “Gold Team” finished 15th overall and first in the silver bracket and the “Alpha Team” was 22nd overall and third in the silver bracket. In all, 250 teams participated in the event. 

Taylor began competing in NCL events in fall 2016 

The national competition emphasizes many skills that reach “far beyond” just one major, Taylor said. The goal is to solve some type of puzzle, or find something specific and return the correct answer to the competition’s interface. The skills required are diverse enough that competitors must step out of their own comfort zones, he said. 

The spring event was every other weekend in April after the “Security Dawgs” collegiate cyber defense competition wrapped up. While there was not as much time for dedicated team practice due to the collegiate competition, many team members worked hard to improve their individual skills with new challenges, Taylor said. 

Will graduate on Saturday 

Taylor, a 2011 graduate of Lincolnwood High School in Raymond, will earn his bachelor’s degree in information systems technologies on Saturday. He will start work in July with Cerner Corp., based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Taylor became interested in SIU Carbondale because of the Security Dawgs. He worked with the team to help start a cybersecurity team at John A. Logan College “and wanted to continue that relationship.” He earned an associate degree in computer support network from John A. Logan in 2016. 

That is how Taylor met Imboden and Belle Woodward, an associate professor and faculty adviser for the registered student organization, and said he was excited to be in their classes when he arrived at SIU. 

“It was cool finding such a nice program near me though, as it’s also nice to be able to live near enough to home that I could just drive there when I wanted,” Taylor said. 

NCL organized in 2011

Daniel Manson, a professor in computer information systems at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, (Cal Poly Pomona), is on the NCL Board and league commissioner. 

NCL was created to provide “a fun yet educational competition environment that would permit students to strengthen cybersecurity skills based on market-driven certification requirements, and provide personal assessments in the form of performance score cards called Scouting Reports that allow comparisons across cohorts and time, Manson said. 

The Teams

Members of the two Security Dawg teams competing in NCL this spring, all of whom are information systems technologies majors, were: 

“Gold Team”


  • Havana: Kimberly Oest, sophomore.
  • Marion: Trenton Taylor, senior.
  • Mattoon: Mark Blume, senior.
  • Oak Lawn: Jacob Kupres, junior.


  • Imperial: Jesse Frawley, junior.

“Alpha Team”


  • Benton: Steve Osborn, junior.
  • Centralia: Ronald “Quinn” DeBernardi, senior.
  • Springfield: Benjamin Hughes, junior.
  • Wheaton: Mike McCarthy, junior.


  • Naples: Thomas Birch, senior.