Newry.ie

Southern Regional College in Newry have hosted the worldwide MAGIC cyber competition – an ethical hacking cybersecurity competition aimed at entry-level participants from secondary school and college level who work in teams to solve a series of cybersecurity puzzles.

MAGIC is working to close the gap of needed cybersecurity professionals by increasing students’ interest in cybersecurity and by connecting communities with an interest in preparing their workforce for future careers in technology and cybersecurity.

Students from St. Colman’s College in Newry joined forces with SRC students from both the HND in Computing course (Armagh Campus) and the Foundation Degree in Computing course (Newry Campus).

The HUB facility in the SRC Newry campus proved to be both a creative and relaxed environment for the teams who were supported by both Leo McCavana, Security Engineer from AllState Northern Ireland and Joe Dolan from NI Cybersecurity who also supplied the much needed and appreciated pizza and brain food for the event! 

Participants in the MAGIC Cyber competition at the SRC in Newry.
Participants in the MAGIC Cyber competition at the SRC in Newry.

Jonny McCullagh from First Derivatives guided the students in areas of hacking and programming solutions in Java.  

Leo from Allstate Northern Ireland was highly impressed with the skills and enthusiasm of all the students and is keen to work further in future events to promote cyber awareness.

Joe Dolan, from Cyberspace NI, was delighted that SRC had hosted the event and praised the College for being one of the biggest hubs in Northern Ireland. Joe said, “I found the event bigger than just the competition as it brought schools together to compete against teams from across the world. The enthusiasm from the young people, coaches and lecturers involved was infectious.”

Staff mentors Michelle Coyle and Marie McArdle were also on hand to encourage the students and help them through the evening along with IT support from Patrick Toal.

As soon as the competition began at 5pm, there was an air of excitement and indeed competiveness amongst all of the teams. The Newry teams were competing with teams from America, Estonia and other Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland. The large screen kept updating over the evening to show the scores and places with the rest of the world.

This global competition was a platform for team mates to collaborate, learn new skills in programming and problem solving. The engagement with industry was conducive in learning the roles that Allstate can offer and the job role of the cyber security specialist. 

When the competition ended at 8:30pm, there was a buzz of achievement and many new relationships forged between students and industry representatives. 

Although there were no main overall winners, Sharon McCone – Curriculum Area Manager at SRC who helped organise the event through Digital Hub NI, said that the thrill of the competition environment and the forging of working relationships with key employers on the evening was a brilliant opportunity for all the students who participated.

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