Preparing for the Future: Roane State Hosts Cybersecurity Competition

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Roane State Community College

Roane State and Anderson County Career and Technical Center students teamed up to solve mock cybercrimes and track down the culprits during the community college’s first cybersecurity competition.

The brainchild of Roane State Computer Science Professor Dr. George Meghabghab, the event had students uncover and resolve cyberattacks by mock adversaries who left digital traces of their tampering.

Participants also showcased their skills at coding, or programming, and encryption, or keeping others from reading private messages.

The competitors were asked to solve six fictional scenarios in five hours. In one, the five teams probed the disappearance of suspect “Ann Dercover” after she posted bail. They were tasked with analyzing information intercepted by the Oak Ridge Police Department and using it to find what the suspect emailed and where she went.

Pacing back and forth in front of a Roane State computer lab, Meghabghab urged the cyber sleuths to relax before they began their computer-based efforts. “Breathe!” he said. “Take your time. Discover what you know, what you don’t know.”

“It’s a little friendly competition,” said Markus Pomper, dean of the college’s division of Mathematics and Sciences. He urged the students to “think about why cybersecurity is important.”

Roane State student and cyber competitor Dylan Tipton is staying in college to obtain a second associate’s degree, this time in computer programing and cyber security. The reason? “After taking programming 1 with George (Meghabghab), I loved it,” Tipton said. Cybersecurity, he said, “is a very profitable field.”

Another Roane State student, Amy Lawler, said she signed up for the competition “because it looks like fun.” She said cybersecurity is a profession with a promising future.

Eric Anderson is an adjunct history professor at Walters State Community College who said he’s in his second semester in Roane State’s cyber defense program. Anderson said he’s taking the courses in anticipation of a career change.

Four students from the Anderson County Career and Technical Center participated in the competition. Assistant Principal Nathan Wade said his school is starting a cybersecurity curriculum soon.

During the lunch break, Meghabghab reiterated the importance of the competition.

“You need to participate in as many competitions as you can,” he said. “They are a complement to our curriculum and they need to be part of your resume and e-portfolio.”

Students also expressed interest in a “programming” competition as well. “We will have both for the spring semester, and we will start preparing for them right now,” Meghabghab promised.

To learn more about Roane State’s cybersecurity classes, visit or contact Meghabghab at (865) 354-3000 ext. 2121 or