Security Dawgs team, assembled on a staircase

Members of SIU’s Security Dawgs will compete in the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Members of the team, from bottom left, are Mike Whisenhunt, Tony Barnes, Andrew Barnes, Alex Hayes, Dustin Myers, Isaac Brown, Tyson Nicklin, Matthew Pawlowski, Matthew Nicklin and Trent Grider. (Photo provided) 

March 10, 2023

SIU’s student cybersecurity team wins wildcard competition, moves on to regional

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s student cybersecurity team took first place at a multistate event this weekend, sending the Security Dawgs to a regional competition later this month.

The Security Dawgs were the top team among 18 at the wildcard round Saturday during the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. The eight-member team next will compete at the Midwest Regional CCDC tournament March 17-18 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills.

“The team’s hard work paid off,” said Matthew Nicklin, assistant lecturer in SIU’s School of Computing and the team’s adviser. “Their success is a reflection of the excellent education they receive at SIU Carbondale.”

The upcoming competition will pit teams from two- and four-year colleges and universities that will build and defend mock production business infrastructure from professional “hackers” attempting to take each team’s production systems offline and breach the security. At the same time, judges will deploy network enhancements and upgrade challenges to teams, evaluating each team’s performance along the way.

Teams from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri and Wisconsin will be on hand for the competition, which helps prepare members for the challenges of the real cybersecurity world.

Security Dawgs team members, with their programs and hometowns, include:


Dustin Myers, team captain, a senior in information technology, Johnston City

Mike Whisenhunt, senior information systems technology, Mount Vernon

Trent Grider, senior in information systems technology

Tyson Nicklin, junior in information technology, West Frankfort

Andrew Barnes, senior in computer science, Danville

Isaac Brown, senior in economics, O’Fallon

Matthew Pawlowski, junior in information technology, Mundelein

Tony Barnes, senior in information technology, Danville