EECS cadets, faculty enter live Codewarz for first time

Story and photos by Kathy Eastwood Staff Writer

February 2nd, 2017 | News, News and Features
Class of 2019 Cadet Jinwon Seo attempts to solve one of the problems in computer programing during the live Codewarz competition where cadets and Soldiers compete in 27 coding and programing challenges Jan. 21. This is the first time West Point Cadets competed in the live challenge tournament. Tournaments are generally four times a year and hosted by the Cyber Center of Excellence, Cyber Protection Brigade at Fort Gordon, Ga.
Maj. Josh Rykowski, Cyber Protection Brigade at Fort Gordon, Ga.; Lt. Col. William Moody, assistant professor and computer science deputy program director for the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department; and Maj. Benjamin Klimowski, assistant professor for EECS, look at the list of top scorers during the Codewarz challenge where cadets and Soldiers compete in 27 coding and programing challenges Jan. 21. This is the first time West Point Cadets competed in the live challenge tournament. Tournaments are held generally four times a year.

Codewarz is a programming competition designed by and for active duty cyber Soldiers to sharpen computer programming and coding skills of Soldiers in a world with constant cyber challenges. Codewarz is hosted by the Cyber Protection Brigade at Fort Gordon, Georgia and it hosts a series of programming competitions throughout the year.

The competitions have two components, live and online competitions. The live competition was held for the first time at the U.S. Military Academy Jan. 21.

“The event features programming challenges that include a wide range of topics from traditional computer science type problems to more applied cyber-related problems,” Maj. Benjamin Klimkowski, assistant professor in the Electoral Engineering and Computer Science Department, said.

“Some are pure math-based problems while others require knowledge of file forensics, networking and cryptography,” Klimkowski explained. “In essence, participants will go to a website and read a problem description that may or may not have a small example of the requirement output. From there, they will develop the code that solves it. Participants will then submit the code where an automated testing server will test against a set of test cases that participants do not see.”

Although the competition is similar to some cyber competitions, they are not like others such as the annual Cyber Defense Exercise.

The Codewarz competition involves a lot of individuals working independently on a series of unrelated problems that can be accomplished in any order to maximize their score.

There were 45 cadets and seven faculty members who competed in the live competition. They were presented with 27 problems to solve.

The competition online is by invite only. Many cadets and faculty have accounts and once someone has an account, it comes with the ability to invite three additional members.

EECS faculty have unlimited invites to share with cadets, but there are many Soldiers, noncommissioned officers, officers and cadets from across the USA Cyber Force with access to this site.

“The live event is held four times a year, generally at Fort Gordon since 2015,” assistant professor and Computer Science Deputy program director, Lt. Col. William Moody said.

“Cadets and faculty have been competing in the online portion of Codewarz since February 2016. Due to this relationship with the Codewarz team, this quarter’s live event was held at West Point for the first time Jan. 21. Another tournament on Jan. 28 was held at Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia.”

Moody said the Codewarz live competition was seen as a great success because of the support from colleagues at the Cyber Protection Brigade, which was a critical component for the continued improvement of cadets’ academic experiences at the Academy.

“Creative and engaging events like this inspire the cadets to take ownership of their education,” Moody said. “Competitors were able to flex their programming muscles and exercise problem-solving skills in a fun, competitive, but sometimes stressful environment. After it was over, I laughed and told the cadets we had tricked them into learning during their weekend free time. We hope to be able to hold these events in the future.”