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Oklahoma City Community College cyber team tops rankings

    (Published: 12-12-19)

Show here (left to right) are Professor Haifeng Ji and OCCC cyber security students Sean Danley, Stephen Diaz and Erik Kendall.

A team of seven Oklahoma City Community College (OCCC) students was recognized recently for exploiting wireless cyber security weaknesses, winning sixth place in that category at the recent National Cyber League competition.

“This was definitely a test of our skills, tougher than anything I’ve experienced before,” said team captain Don Kien, who is close to finishing his associate degree in cyber information security at OCCC. “It was very exciting, not only the event itself, but being able to rely on such a great team toward accomplishing a common goal. We worked surprisingly well together.”

The team also placed 26th in the password-cracking category, 36th in network traffic analysis and 70th overall out of nearly 800 teams during the Nov. 15-17 event. The performance puts OCCC in 35th position in the NCL national fall season rankings and ninth in the central division, placing higher than many other four-year institutions across the country.

In addition to Kien, the OCCC team consisted of Jude O’Kain, Stephen Diaz, Kelsey Care, Sean Danley, Donovan Clayton and Ellen Bugarin. Fourteen other OCCC students participated individually, for a total school representation of 21. O’Kain placed 27th among 4,149 students nationwide in the individual competition, while Diaz placed in the top 12% and Erik Kendall ended up in the top 20%.

OCCC Computer Sciences Professor Haifeng Ji said he could not be prouder. The students have been working hard all semester and deserve the accolades, the faculty advisor said.

The NCL is a biannual competition consisting of a series of challenges that test students’ skills in identifying hackers in forensic data, testing websites for vulnerabilities and recovering from ransomware attacks. The competition showcases individual skills and teamwork, providing examples of real-world tasks that can be used in professional resumes. Kien, for example, who plans to transfer to Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology for a bachelor’s degree, intends to bring up the NCL experience when he applies for jobs in information security analysis.

“Students can demonstrate their hands-on skills in a stressful, competitive environment. Afterward, the NCL also provides scouting reports to all the participants, breaking down their performances in each of nine categories,” Haifeng said. “I can think of two of our former students who were able to use their NCL performance to help get internships that ultimately led to very good jobs.”

The NCL seasonal competition standings are available online at

OCCC’s cybersecurity AAS degree program was among the first of two-year institutions to be designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE2Y) by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. To learn more about OCCC’s cybersecurity program, visit