UTulsa’s first majority-female pen testing team makes finals - The University of Tulsa
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UTulsa’s first majority-female pen testing team makes finals

The University of Tulsa’s Global Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition (CPTC) team made history this year by becoming the first majority-female team to compete at the 2024 Global Finals.

Co-captains Elizabeth Christensen and Don Cowan, as well as teammates Evelyn Munoz, Samantha Phillips, Ferdinand Mudjialim, and Marina Katoh, descended on Rochester, New York, to compete in a challenge that tested both their technical and communication skills. The six students – undergraduates and graduate students – are enrolled in UTulsa’s cyber studies program and were joined at the competition by their coach, Codi West, instructor of cybersecurity and director of co-curricular activities in the College of Engineering & Computer Science.

“I love being a part of the CPTC team, and this year was even more special being the first majority-female team to compete in the nine years the competition has been held,” said Phillips.

CPTC is unlike other collegiate cybersecurity competitions. It focuses on training and evaluating the activities that teams are likely to perform during a real-world penetration testing engagement. Instead of defending your network, searching for flags, or claiming ownership of systems, CPTC focuses on mimicking the activities performed during a real-world penetration testing engagement conducted by companies, professional services firms, and internal security departments worldwide. Technical findings, presentations, reports, and overall professionalism are key to scoring well.

Judges and sponsors from the security industry evaluated the competitors’ performance. Students also had the opportunity to meet experts, distribute resumes, and interview with potential employers.

The University of Tulsa was one of just 15 schools to advance to the finals, competing against the University of Texas, Stanford University, the University of Massachusetts, West Point, and the University of Florida, among others. CPTC is considered the premier offense-based collegiate computing security event.

In addition to making history, UTulsa’s CPTC team did not leave empty-handed. For their performance, the team won the “Best AI Presentation” category award.

“This was my third year on the CPTC team and my third year attending the Global CPTC finals,” Phillips added. “Each year, the competition challenges me to learn new things and develop my skills further. I continue to compete in cyber competitions because of all the amazing people I have met and the friends I have made. The memories from these competitions will last a lifetime.”