Regis University to Host First Virtual Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cybersecurity Defense Competition

Two-day event simulates business scenario cyberattack

Regis University will host the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (RMCCDC) for eight teams this month to test their cybersecurity skills, knowledge and abilities under new conditions. For the first time in its 11 years, the competition will be conducted virtually.

The RMCCDC competition will be held March 26 and 27. The top-performing team will represent the Rocky Mountain region at the national competition in April.

Starting Friday morning, teams will be briefed about the business scenario, using computers, printers and other electronic equipment as well as the applications and internet services needed to run a simulated business. Each team will attempt to secure its business from cyberattacks waged by a team of 20 crafty volunteers attempting to break into the systems throughout the two days.

“Today’s student competitors will be protecting the universities, businesses, government agencies and our nation in the years to come, and we are preparing them to do that,” said Bob Bowles, director of Regis’ Center for Information Assurance Studies, who helped organize the event.

A preliminary qualifying round narrowed the competition to Regis University, Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of Colorado-Denver, Red Rocks Community College, Southern Utah University, Brigham Young University and Ensign College (formerly LDS Business College). 

Regis’ eight-member team, gleaned from its Cyber Competition Club (CyComp), is ready to test its mettle against the other schools representing the best in the Rocky Mountain region.

We’ve been meeting twice as much as we normally have because we did pretty well in the qualifying round and we want to represent Regis well again,” said senior Julia Masciarelli, the CyComp captain. “I know there are new skills that we’ll see this round that we haven’t seen in previous competitions, so we’re trying to learn those now.”

This will be Masciarelli’s fourth year of competition. It’s also the first year the contest goes virtual, which poses unique challenges.

The RMCCDC goal is to choose the team with the best skills to move forward to the national event, said Bowles, noting that teamwork is essential.

“This competition tests a lot of skills in the moment, and one of the most important is how well individual teams work together,” Bowles said. “We always try to throw in something unique each year”

This year, teams will have to set up their own servers before they can proceed.

“They will have to build their environments then keep a fictional business operating while under an intense cyberattack,” Bowles said. “There’s definitely a personality type extreme risk takers that gravitates to these games. These two days will be intense for them.”

While fending off cyberattacks from some of the areas most talented penetration testers, the teams will have to simulate a normal workday, such as responding to a CEO’s sudden, deadline-driven request. 

The competition is supposed to be fun, but Bowles acknowledges students are pushed to their limits. The competition helps universities evaluate their cybersecurity programs and it prepares future cybersecurity leaders like Brett Paglieri, a Regis senior who’ll also be competing in his fourth cybersecurity contest.

“It has a positive impact on my preparedness to go into the industry and my career,” Paglieri said. “You learn real-world skills that you don’t learn in the theoretical classroom.”

For Bowles, volunteering to host RMCCDC events is worth the added workload.

“Every year, our student teams compete using a business scenario the organizers concoct, but this year the RMCCDC organizers labored under similar conditions we had to set up a two-day, completely virtual event,” said Bowles. “It required more coordination to pull it off.”

The competition requires the support of about 100 volunteers, including nearly a dozen who designed and configured the environment as well as those who will role play during the event, score the teams and more. 

The winning team will be announced at the event’s conclusion, around 5 p.m. Saturday.


*Pictured in the photo at top are seven of the eight members of Regis University's Cyber Competition Club and their two faculty sponsors.

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About Regis University

Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. Regis University, one of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, has three campus locations in the Denver metro area and extensive online program offerings with more than 8,000 enrolled students. For more information, visit