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JOLT Cyber Challenge Teaches Cybersecurity and Critical Thinking Skills


This October, the Venture Center is giving Arkansas’ cybersecurity industry a jolt with a “game of codes.”

The Venture Center will be holding the annual JOLT Cyber Challenge – a mainstay of Arkansas’ Techtober season – which sets teams of programmers and developers against each other in a series of challenges over the course of 24 hours. Designed as a Jeopardy-style competition, gamemasters –who are cybersecurity professionals – will test the technical skills of the competitors, as they race against time to complete tasks organized on a game board. 

In addition to being a fun challenge, the JOLT Cyber Challenge aims to be an immersive experience that prepares students and professionals for the cybersecurity field. During the event, participants will learn from established professionals, as well as each other, as they test new tools, concepts and use critical thinking skills to solve complex puzzles.

“We are pleased to host our sixth JOLT Cyber Competition, serving to develop a booming technological workforce right here in Arkansas,” said Wayne Miller, Executive Director of the Venture Center. “The teams participating in JOLT will leave the event better prepared to navigate real-world vulnerabilities through challenges designed by cyber security experts. We’re grateful for the opportunity to strengthen our tech community through JOLT.”

Christopher Wright, the CEO of Citadel Systems, is serving as the lead gamemaster for this year’s JOLT Cyber Challenge. For Wright, the challenge is all about growing as a thinker and professional.

“JOLT is primarily a community event. Students get to meet industry professionals and those professionals get to work with their peers from other companies. The variety of puzzles forces participants to stretch their critical thinking skills. Teams will leave with greater ability to work together and solve complex problems,” Wright said.

2019 JOLT Cyber Challenge

That’s why it’s not essential to be a coder to participate. While it certainly helps to have technical skills, the JOLT Challenge features a variety of challenges, with some focusing on coding, while others are primarily centered around logic, strategy and puzzling solving.

Teams are composed of four individuals and are grouped in categories of varying difficult levels. Student, corporate and individual teams are accepted in the challenge.

The challenge is limited to 40 teams. More than 100 competitors participated in the 2018 JOLT Challenge, and this year looks to eclipse it. Venture Center officials say that the event is tracking to have more than 130 participants.

Registration for corporate teams is $500, independent team registration is $300 and student team registration is $225. Teams that register by September 27 receive a JOLT T-shirt. The registration fee pays for the program participation, as well as six full meals, snacks, caffeine, discounted parking, and access to talented mentors.

Each team member is required to provide their own computer. Set-up will begin on Friday evening with the challenge beginning on Saturday morning.

The competition will be held at the Walton School of Business in Little Rock, located at 119 Main St., on October 11-13.

READ MORE: Applications Open for Second ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator

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