The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's (CISA) first annual President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition wrapped up on December 12, 2019. The competition began in September and drew more than 1,000 individuals and 200 teams. 

After two qualifying rounds, 10 individual finalists and five team finalists came to the Washington, D.C. area for the final round at the CISA Cybersecurity Lab. The President’s Cup is designed to highlight cybersecurity talent in the federal government, and to promote careers in the field. There are currently an estimated 500,000 unfilled cybersecurity-related positions across the public and private sectors, says CISA.

“The United States depends on a strong cybersecurity workforce, but for years the available talent has not kept up with demand,” said CISA Director Christopher Krebs. “The President’s Cup Cybersecurity Challenge is just one of the ways we’re working to build the nation’s cybersecurity workforce – by identifying, highlighting, and rewarding the top talent in government.” 

The five teams were given a series of challenges to solve on the first day, followed by a virtual escape room on the second day, with the winner determined by a combined score from the two days. The winning team consisted of Major Josh Rykowski, U.S. Army Cyber Command; Chief Warrant Officer Phillip Smith, U.S. Army 781st Military Intelligence Brigade; Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Koontz, U.S. Army, Defense Information Systems Agency; Sergeant First Class Zachary McElroy, U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade; and Staff Sergeant Matthew Cundari, U.S. Army Cyber Protection Brigade. 

Individuals were given 10 challenges to solve over an eight-hour period, testing different technical and security skills. Sears Schulz, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, finished first in the individual competition, solving four challenges. Cadet Schulz is a senior at the Academy who hopes to attend graduate school to study cybersecurity. 

The President’s Cup was called for in Executive Order 13870 on America’s Cybersecurity Workforce, which President Trump signed in May.