New Mexico Tech student scores a victory in national Cybersecurity Challenge
March 17, 2022
SOCORRO, N.M. — Jiwan Chong, a senior at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New
Mexico Tech), recently participated on a team that took third place at the Cybersecurity
Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) as part
of its national conference. The conference was held at the Orange County Convention
Center in Orlando, Florida, in November 2021, with the Cybersecurity Challenge held
virtually a week earlier, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chong, a computer science major with an emphasis on cybersecurity, is active on campus
in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers as well as the S-STEM Program. A
graduate of Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, he received a scholarship specifically
to focus on cybersecurity at New Mexico Tech.
A New Mexico Tech faculty member, Dongwan Shin, Ph.D., associate professor of computer
science and engineering, encouraged Chong to enter the competition and attend the
conference for its learning and networking opportunities, especially in the cybersecurity
field. The New Mexico Tech Student Government Association sponsored his participation
in the conference representing the school and the university’s SHPE chapter.
For the virtual competition, Chong joined a three-man team that included two students
from Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Mario Hernandez and Elias Castaneda. The competition
consisted of a nine-hour virtual “capture the flag” “Jeopardy”-style challenge competition
in which teams completed a series of interactive challenges within the shortest amount
of time using teamwork and problem-solving skills.
Cybersecurity Challenge sponsor companies provided mentorship and coaching for the
virtual competition participants. Challenge sponsors included the National Security
Agency, a U.S. intelligence agency headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland, within the
Department of Defense responsible for cryptographic and communications intelligence
and security; and Raytheon Technologies, an aviation, space, and defense contractor
based in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Chong said the conference offered a plethora of opportunities for participants to
explore careers in engineering, computer science, and cybersecurity. He encourages
his fellow Tech students to participate in similar conferences aimed at connecting
students with companies, governments agencies, and other organizations offering career
opportunities in the science, technology, and engineering fields.
“Before I started at New Mexico Tech, I didn’t know anything about cybersecurity,”
Chong said. “The field is growing tremendously. There are so many different pathways
within the field. People are needed to enforce and protect the United States from
malicious threats and attacks. The U.S. gets targeted more than any other country.”
In addition to the placing third in the Cybersecurity Challenge and splitting a $1,000
a cash prize with his teammates, Chong also came out of the SHPE conference with another
victory — a job offer from a company participating in the conference that was actively
recruiting graduating seniors seeking careers in cyber security. Chong is planning
to move to northern Virginia after he graduates from New Mexico Tech in May to start
a career as a systems engineer at Northrup Grumman, a multinational aerospace and
defense technology company.