It was an early and particularly chilly day at The University of Maryland, College Park as Team Tenable pulled up to the Amory building on the main campus. What seemed to feel like a ghost town on a Saturday morning at 6:30am on a college campus slowly became the very opposite of that. Other company sponsors arrived and trickled into the building to begin their preparation for over 850 expected attendees for the world’s largest female and non-binary hackathon event, Technica!
This was Tenable’s first year participating as a sponsor at the fifth annual hacking competition. For those who are not familiar with Technica, this female-focused event is meant to catapult women entering the tech and STEM field a chance to further invest in their careers by immersing themselves in a 24-hour coding competition. Technica encourages hackathon participants to learn, create, and strengthen their technical skill sets by entering competition categories of their choosing and then program and design interesting and innovative hacks. Tenable was participating not only as a sponsor, but we also had the opportunity to hold a prize category where groups could submit an entry for our category, “Least Vulnerable Solution.” In order for the teams to enter, they had to download Nessus Essentials and utilize the program to scan their solution or system. Once scanned, they would screenshot their final results and received scores based on (5) critical, (4) high, (3) medium, (2) low, and (1) for information they learned. Winners of this group received the new Apple Airpods Pro!
Tenable was excited to be a part of Technica this year in particular because it gave us the opportunity to directly connect with students, professors and soon-to-be graduates about our Tenable For Education program. This program gives students, educators, and early career cyber enthusiasts the ability to quickly and easily master vulnerability assessment and hone their skills through Nessus Essentials. Product Marketing Manager, Claire T., who also volunteered over the weekend stated, “With Nessus Essentials and the Tenable for Education program, we're able to put a foundational tool into students’ hands whether it's in a classroom lab or on their own and the Technica event was a great opportunity to see that in action.” The team as a whole was pleased to be present as mentors at the hackathon and help participants with their programming and coding questions as they worked on their projects throughout the weekend.
Angela W., Site Reliability Engineer, and Vickie W., Software Engineer said they were happy to help a variety of groups troubleshoot and resolve their coding and programming questions in order to successfully run their scans and sequences. Angela reflected on a particular group she helped mentor. “When I helped a group with their HTML question and showed them a few tools to help debug, they were very excited about getting their code working and moving forward with their project.” This was just one of the many times Angela got to engage with students from as young as high school to soon-to-be graduates who held a passion similar to her own. “As a kid, I was very interested in computers and my mom was a programmer so she signed me up for a programming camp. After that, I was hooked. I wanted to go into a field in which I could "play" on computers all day. When I went to college and started at my first IT job, I really fell in love with being able to solve problems and help people with their problems” said Angela. Technica was an opportunity for her to volunteer and give back to young women who may have been attending their first programming camp!
“There were many students that were truly interested in Tenable and I got to explain our products and encourage them to try Nessus themselves,'' said Vickie. “Many had also asked about my personal experience as some didn't want to be strictly a software engineer. I mentioned how I started in Computer Science, but then worked part time at Tenable as part of ITS helpdesk as a student to get exposed to not just coding. I soon realized I liked programming and using it as a tool or skill to pursue other areas of interests. Thanks to the managers in ITS, I found a balance of programming to develop web applications and other areas that interested me such as infrastructure, network, and automation.”
Between our volunteer mentors and recruiters who represented Tenable, we all felt as a whole we were able to accomplish our intentions of developing solid relations with Technica participants. Whether that meant assisting groups with their projects, or connecting in great conversation at our booth, we wanted to make sure we left everyone with a positive lasting impression of The Cyber Exposure Company. Many current University of Maryland students, in addition to those who traveled out of state, were thrilled to learn more about what our company does, our mission, and what they could do with their skills if they pursued a career in cybersecurity.
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Written By: Jennette Dielmann