Obama, UK PM Cameron announce CSAIL cybersecurity competition

Students from MIT and University of Cambridge to face off in “Cambridge v. Cambridge” event this fall.
Students from MIT and University of Cambridge to face off in “Cambridge v. Cambridge” event this fall.
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As part of a series of cybersecurity initiatives made public today during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit with President Barack Obama, the two nations announced that MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) will face off against the University of Cambridge this fall for a special student hackathon dubbed “Cambridge v. Cambridge.”

The multiday competition is part of continued efforts by the two nations to collaborate on cybersecurity and harness their collective brainpower to help combat global cyberattacks.

“We look forward to this unique opportunity to foster more international collaboration on technical research in cybersecurity,” says Howard Shrobe, the CSAIL principal research scientist who leads the lab’s new Cybersecurity@CSAIL initiative. “We are excited to partner with the University of Cambridge on this academic initiative with our students, and hope that this will be the first of many events aimed at bringing together these two institutions.”

Students in the competition will develop technologies and platforms focused on ongoing challenges in cybersecurity. They will have to demonstrate a variety of technical, interpersonal, and business skills beyond pure computer science and engineering, such as pitching to venture capitalists and industry, considering policy implications of key decisions, and speaking to the press in a real-world simulation.

“It’s important to create opportunities for students to actively apply their coursework to real-world problems,” Shrobe says. “This hackathon allows for exactly those sorts of hands-on learning experiences.”

The collaboration builds on other recent cybersecurity efforts at CSAIL, including Cybersecurity@CSAIL and the November announcement that CSAIL’s Daniel Weitzner, a principal research scientist, will head up the new MIT Cybersecurity Policy Initiative funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

More information will be made available on the CSAIL website in the coming weeks.