Cyberhusky student group scores big at national cybersecurity competition in individual and team events

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) – The Cyberhuskies, a group of Houghton County middle and high school students, are showing the country what they can do.

At this year’s spring National Cyber League (NCL), all students scored high marks across the board. But just what is the Cyberhusky program?

“It’s a cybersecurity student club which focuses on the study of computing knowledge such as cybersecurity, Linux, machine learning, all kinds of cool stuff,” MTU Applied Computing Professor and Associate Chair Yu Cai said. “And the main members are high school students and middle school students from Houghton and the surrounding areas.

The program has been active since 2019. Students drop by campus on weekends during the school year for almost two hours of training with university faculty. This is put into practice at competitions like the NCL, where students navigate categories such as encryption and decryption.

This is the program’s second time going to the competition, with students such as Anna Wu and Rachel Sun from Houghton High School (HHS) having gone both times. Their teams ranked 7th and 39th out of 600, respectively.

“What stood out to me, I guess, was there are so many ways to store information, but all of them can be cracked in some way,” Wu said.

“We’ve done it before, we kind of know the drill, and it’s just nice to see how we’ve improved over just each year,” Sun added.

Fellow HHS students Gabriel Hjerstedt and Daniel Xie placed among the top 150 in the individual competition.

“I really enjoyed it, particularly because there was a lot of different categories, and so there was a ton that you could learn from.” Hjerstedt said.

“I liked it, working together as a team,” Xie continued. “You get so much more done, and you see the perspectives of everyone around you.”

For first-year members Luke Meyers and Alex Svandize, both had reasons to go, and fond memories of going.

“I went because one of my other friends, Maxwell. He was going,” Meyers said. “So, I decided to see what it was about.”

“Some good times with my teammates were, like, when we were stuck on one question and then we went different ways to figure out how to solve it together,” Svandize added.

The team thanks Michigan Tech’s College of Computing for its support. For anyone interested in joining the program, click here.