A STUDENT from the Bradford district is set for a trip to NASA and the Pentagon after winning the final of a national cyber security challenge.

Samee Ullah Malik, 18, was part of a winning four-person team made up of students from across the UK taking part in CyberCenturion VII.

His team came together virtually from Bristol and Potters Bar to claim first prize. In the final, the students had to identify potential vulnerabilities in the space engineering IT infrastructure of fictional company 'New Gen' to show their technical skills and win the competition.

The virtual final saw Samee's side beat off competition from 14 other finalist teams to seal an all-expenses paid trip to the US Northrop Grumman facility, including a visit to the Pentagon, which is the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense, and the NASA space research facility, when travel restrictions allow.

It is a competition open to students aged 12 to 18 in the UK and British Overseas Territories, giving secondary school pupils the opportunity to develop their cyber security skills and put them to the test via a series of technical and network challenges.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Samee Ullah Malik, of Heaton, is set for a trip to the USA when travel restrictions allowSamee Ullah Malik, of Heaton, is set for a trip to the USA when travel restrictions allow

Sponsored by global aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman, the programme aims to provide a stepping stone for students and is increasingly well-recognised by employers, with online qualifying rounds to test technical ability, and the opportunity to network with inspiring professionals in the industry.

Samee, who is studying A-levels in Maths, Computer Science and Business Studies at Bingley Grammar School, says he was delighted to win the competition and now hopes to put his winning skills to work with an apprenticeship at IBM in Manchester from September.

He said: "It feel very good to win.

"People have been congratulating me. I'm really proud and thankful for my team.

"There were four of us in my team and we had a team leader. We had to remove viruses from three computers."

Nick Chaffey, CEO UK, Europe & Middle East, Northrop Grumman, said: "CyberCenturion is a true test of teamwork and problem solving, lateral thinking and game playing; skills that are key for cyber professionals protecting UK business, government and national security.

Reaching the national final with team members based in four different UK locations and then winning is a great achievement for Samee and his team

"We have an amazing community of students that support and encourage each other, in fact Samee’s team leader was a previous CyberCenturion competitor and finalist, so look out for CyberCenturion VIII launching soon and join in to test your skills and discover exciting careers in cyber.”

CyberCenturion has been running for seven years. This year’s competition programme represents an ongoing collaborative effort from sponsor organisation Northrop Grumman and delivery partner Cyber Security Challenge UK to engage a rich and more diverse pool of future talent with opportunities in STEM and cyber security, driven by a shared mission to contribute towards closing the global cyber skills gap.

Finalists were joined at last week's final by school peers, who supported the teams and helped to recreate the atmosphere and excitement of the national finals by being the official photographers, video content producers and journalists that would usually be present at the face-to-face event.