The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NE students advance to Cisco NetRiders national competition

By Amber Veytia/reporter

The Cisco NetRiders Competition is in full swing, and two NE students are competing at the national level as the Texas representatives.

James Blanton and Logan Adams will begin the final competition Dec. 8.

The NetRiders Competition is open to students enrolled in Cisco Networking Academy courses in the U.S. and Canada. Students are paired in teams of two and have to solve complex problems related to computer networking during a live simulation.

Although they will work on NE Campus, they will be monitored by video. The pair are competing against teams from across the nation, some from community colleges and other from universities such as Ball State in Indiana and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

NE student Todd Woods attributed TCC’s success in the NetRiders Competition to Neil Brooks, computer science associate professor.

“In the state of Texas, Neil Brooks is the best CCNA [Cisco Certified Network Associate] instructor, hands down,” Woods said. “Ten of his students made up the five teams that won in the first round.”

Their journey began in October.

In round one, a statewide competition Oct. 29, students took an online CCNA level-exam with 80 questions and a 60-minute time limit. Then, students had 90 minutes to perform simulations using Packet Tracer Network Simulation Software. The work was done on the college campuses and monitored by the national organizers.

“When I took the initial test, I did not think we had done that good because we still had five questions left when the test timed out,” Woods said. “So I was shocked when I learned my team had done so well. I actually thought Professor Brooks was joking when he congratulated me.”

About 40 teams competed in Texas, but only 10 teams could move on to round two. Of those 10 teams, five were from NE. Richard White and Tim Lufkin placed second; Christopher Borne and James Hall, fifth; Blanton and Adams, sixth; David Howbert and Todd Woods, seventh; and Michael Meeker and Miguel Guadarrama, ninth.

“When I found out we got second place, I was really excited and surprised because we were up against some very high-quality people in our class,” White said. “I was really proud of Tim and myself.

Lufkin also expressed surprise.

“I was actually pretty shocked because we had 10 questions to go and only six minutes left, so we were pretty frantic toward the end of the test,” he said.

The 10 teams who made it to the second round received a letter of recognition from Cisco and were encouraged to include their involvement in this competition on their résumés.

“This is … something that will set me apart from the other applicants with CCNAs,” White said.

Round two, also on campus, occurred Nov. 19 with only one team from each state moving to the finals. The students took another written test and did another difficult simulation with Packet Tracer Network Simulation Software. That’s when Adams and Blanton won.

“We work at a high standard and having five teams place and one team go to the finals supports the teachings at the NE Campus,” Brooks said.

“Our students work hard, and they don’t take shortcuts. As long as they adhere to that standard of working hard, they will see the results. It is not luck that wins this competition. It is hard work.”

The Theatre Finales, as the final segment is called, again includes an online exam and Packet Tracer Network Simulation Software in a proctored environment.

Winners should be announced that evening. The Collegian will update the results online at

First and second place in the Theater Finales will receive an all-expense paid trip in January to Silicon Valley, Calif. This includes airfare, lodging, meals, transportation, tours of Cisco corporate offices and labs and a meeting with Cisco executives.

The top two teams from North America will be joined by 12 international students who also won their Cisco NetRiders Competitions.

Third- to sixth-place teams will receive Flip video cameras while seventh- to 10th-place teams will receive wireless routers.

Woods believes the true payoff won’t be in the prizes. It will be in the career opportunities the Cisco NetRiders Competition offers the competitors.

“I received so many e-mails from people I don’t know congratulating me,” he said. “So obviously, employers are looking at the winners lists, and they are looking for people to hire.”

Lufkin said the contest builds a competitive spirit while raising awareness about the CCNA program.

“This is a way to motivate students to study more. Having a CCNA is being part of a community that sets you apart from everyone else,” he said. “I worked hard for two semesters and now will get a great job out of it.”

Brooks said that participation will provide students with long-term benefits.

“The NetRiders Competition will prop up the CCNA that they get and will add another dimension to having the certification,” he said. “This will help secure a strong future for these students.”


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