UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


UCL represented by interdisciplinary team at the first Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in the UK

28 February 2018

An interdisciplinary team from UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP) and UCL Department of Computer Science represented the university at the first

UCL team at the first Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge

atlanticcouncil.org/programs/brent-scowcroft-center/cyber-statecraft/cyber-9-12">Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in the UK, which took place at the iconic BT Tower on 26-27th February. Forming the team were Ana Saldarriaga Gomez, Mathilde McBride, Oliviero Iurcovich - three MPA students at UCL STEaPP - and Jonathan Spring, PhD candidate in Computer Science.


The team combined great expertise across politics, international law, electrical engineering and information security. "Our team reflected the diverse skillset required to respond to the increasingly complex cybersecurity challenges of our time," said Dr Irina Brass who coached the team. "Together with colleagues at UCL STEaPP - Dr Madeline Carr, Dr Alex Chung, Sneha Dawda and Dr Leonie Tanczer - we were able to put together a training programme that allowed the team to gain quick familiarity with cybersecurity policy and politics."

During the simulation, the team had to mobilise their diverse knowledge and skills in order to produce a rigorous assessment of a complex cyber threat on the UK's critical infrastructure, and to evaluate and recommend a preferred course of action to central government. "The team worked very well together, learning from each other's diverse expertise, being considerate about their specialist knowledge and incredibly willing to share it. They are proof of the value of interdisciplinary thinking and problem solving," added Dr Brass.

Reflecting on his experience, Oliviero Iurchovich said: "The Cyber 9/12 Challenge was a great experience to learn about how cybersecurity influences and affects politics and international relations. Presenting in front of experienced judging panels and being able to network with delegates and other student teams was a great opportunity to better understand this fascinating landscape. Cyber 9/12 allowed me to gain some incredibly valuable skills in how policy-making works under great amounts of pressures."

Ana Saldarriaga Gomez said: "The Cyber 9/12 Challenge contributed a lot to my career development. It developed my personal network with fellow students and business leaders within the sector. It also allowed me to put into practice a lot of the concepts and practical skills learnt throughout the MPA in Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy at UCL STEaPP, such as briefing decision makers on complex policy challenges. Learning how to work in such a multidisciplinary team was also a significant component of the experience, and even though it demands extra time outside the masters, I can genuinely say it was worth every second invested."

"As a person focused on the technical response to cyber security incidents, I found this experience very useful to get a view of the policy response to those incidents and how those discussions go," said Jonathan Spring.

Mathilde McBride added: "The confidence and knowledge that UCL STEaPP has given me thus far has undoubtedly been a huge asset for how I approached the Cyber 9/12 Challenge. Being part of such an interdisciplinary team has been a privilege."

Congratulations to the team for their hard work, dedication and innovative thinking during the challenge!

Should this topic be of interest to you, have a look at our Digital Technologies and Policy (MPA) programme (scholarships are available). Cyber security policy will be covered in the Digital Technologies and Policy MPA and we will again field a team to attend the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in 2019.