Cyber Education and Research Center hosts high school tech day: Tech Mania

By Annie Dail | Mar 25, 2024

Tech Mania 2024

Students work together during a competition as part of Tech Mania 2024

MURRAY, Ky. – More than 150 students from high schools around west Kentucky and northwest Tennessee recently competed in Tech Mania 2024.

Murray State University’s Cyber Education and Research Center and School of Engineering sponsored the competition that encouraged students to consider cybersecurity and network management as potential careers. 

Starting in 2018, Tech Mania has brought high school and middle students from across west Kentucky and northwest Tennessee, ranging from Ballard County to Hopkins County to Henry County, Tennessee, together in a fun team competition-style event. Tech Mania started in collaboration with the West Kentucky Educational Cooperative’s GearUp program, which continues to support the Tech Mania event.

“Tech Mania offers high school and middle school students the chance to participate in team-based competitions that involve working with cybersecurity and networking equipment,” said Dr. Michael Ramage, director of the Murray State Cyber Center. “The aim of the event is to inspire students to explore practical experiences in the fields of technology, networking and cybersecurity.”

Students were separated into groups of two or three according to their skill levels and were required to complete several tasks relating to building and securing a network. Tech Mania 2024 asked groups to compete in five separate activities in an effort to score points.  Students were asked to complete the following experiences: forensically review the digital image of a phone in order to answer investigative questions, create category five patch cables in order to connect computers, analyze network packets to better understand the network traffic, review a security policy to determine whether certain activities were in compliance and hunt for rogue wireless access points.

"The demand for cybersecurity professionals is incredibly high and continues to grow across the country,” said Dr. Randall Joyce, program coordinator for the Murray State University Cybersecurity and Network Management bachelor's degree program. “We hope that events like Tech Mania can generate more interest in cybersecurity careers and help reduce the worker deficit.”

The two winning teams received scholarships to attend Murray State University’s Cybersecurity and Network Management program, with many other students receiving door prizes throughout the day. Tech Mania 2024 winners were:

  • Andruw Ballard, Gateway Academy

  • Ryan Crouch, Mayfield-Graves Area Technology Center (ATC)

  • Legend Beauregard, Ballard County

  • Jiahao Hou, Mayfield-Graves ATC

In 1997, Kentucky House Bill 1 created Programs of Distinction through the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education at public postsecondary institutions, including Murray State University’s cybersecurity program. Murray State offers a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and network management, along with an accelerated master’s degree – available online –  in cybersecurity management that can be completed in 12-18 months and certificates at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

Murray State’s Cyber Education and Research Center provides education, research, development and outreach support for the University’s cyber-related programs.

In 2019, Murray State was designated a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

The program is recognized as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (NSA CA-CD), certified through the Quality Assurance Commons with the Essential Employability Qualities Certification, and has won multiple national awards over the years through ITERA including Program of the Year. 

Learn more about Murray State’s CNM program at

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