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Eligibility, Application and FAQs


Any full-time high school (ages 14-18), undergraduate (ages 18+), or graduate (ages 18+). Teams must be composed of members from the same academic level.

Please note that we are aligning ourselves with NSF’s commitment to broadening participation, which is embedded in its Strategic Plan through a variety of investment priorities related to the Learning and Stewardship strategic outcome goals. Specifically, we are expanding efforts to broaden participation from underrepresented groups and diverse institutions across all geographical regions.

Application process (Applications will open in early-mid February and are due on April 29th, 2023 @ 12pm ET)

Have the following information ready for the online registration form:

  1. Team name
  2. Institution name
  3. Team member details: size (2-4 members), full names, email addresses, profile photos and short bios (200 characters per member)
  4. Faculty advisor/mentor (with institution-affiliated email address). The advisor/mentor can be full-time faculty, full-time staff or full-time graduate student. Advisors/mentors who have part-time status (adjuncts, members from industry/government/nonprofit etc.) are not permitted. If you are a graduate student team, your advisor/mentor must be faculty or staff. Each team can only have ONE advisor/mentor.
  5. If any member of the team is under 18 years of age, this consent form must be completed by each member as part of the application.
  6. Proof of full-time enrollment (scroll down to the FAQs for more information).
  7. Your team’s romance scams PSA.
  8. How you hear about this event (please be as detailed as possible. If your advisor/mentor told you about it, please let us know how they heard about it).

Register your team here.

All teams will be notified about the selection decision by TBD.


  1. Participation will require parental permission (if under age 18).
  2. All selected participants must sign two waivers. The first waiver ensures that students do not cheat or use external/professional assistance.
  3. Zoom calls will be recorded, and those that are excellent will be shared on our website and/or at conference presentations! Each member of selected teams must also complete a second waiver which includes an audio-visual release to compete. This allows organizers to use images, audio, text, and video generated during the competition for event promotion and dissemination via conferences, publications, and podcasts.
  4. Each member of selected teams will be required to complete a pre-event and post-event survey.

This event and evaluation are considered research and are part of the education and outreach efforts of NSF Award # 2032292.

When will the winners be announced?

Winners will be announced at TBD.

What do we win?

We will list the winning teams on this website and promote you via our social media accounts (@TU_CARE). Of course, there are cash prizes:

1st place: $1,500
2nd place: $1,000
3rd place: $500

But most importantly, you win by experiencing what it is like to do social engineering!


Do we have to be in the United States to compete?

No! You can be anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, you would not be eligible for the prize monies. But you still get to be in our Hall of Fame and gain the pen testing experience.

Do we have to be university students?

No! Students from high schools, 2-year, and 4-year institutions (undergraduate and graduate) can compete! However teams members must be at the same level. For instance, a team cannot have a mix of undergraduate and graduate students; it must be strictly be composed of undergraduates only or graduates only or high school only.

Can my school submit more than one team?

Yes! While multiple teams from the same institution can apply, only one will be selected per institution to compete. There is an exception. If there are not enough teams from different institutions to fill all available spots, multiple teams from a single institution may be accepted.

Can we create teams where members are from different schools?

Yes! However, one person can only be on one application (the same person cannot be part of multiple teams at the time of application). Also, teams from different institutions must still be at the same level (purely high school students or purely undergrad students or purely graduate students).

Are seniors who are graduating at the end of this spring quarter eligible to compete?

Yes! Seniors graduating from high schools, undergraduate and graduate programs are eligible and compete in the summer after their last semester/year.

I’m not a computer science/engineering student and don’t know how to code or hack. Can me and my non-technical classmates still compete?

Yes! This experience is not structured as a technical event. So please do not hesitate – do apply! Remember that this is about learning in a fun and safe environment, and that is the experience we are trying to provide students with!

What is the expected time commitment required by a team?

Once a team is selected, all members will be required to attend a 4-5 hour (might fluctuate a bit) training session. The time commitment for the competition will depend based on its structure.

Your website says that each team member must be registered as a full-time student. What documentation can students provide to prove they are full-time?

Most universities and colleges offer students the ability to obtain an ‘Enrollment Verification’ document. An enrollment verification serves as proof that a student is enrolled for a particular semester as a full-time or part-time student. You should be able to download your individual copy through your institution’s online student portal.

Students should get their respective enrollment verification document for the Spring 2022 semester, which can then be included in the application document.

High school students can get a letter from their school principal or advisor confirming that they are enrolled full-time.

Who can be a team advisor/mentor?

The team advisor/mentor can be full-time faculty, full-time staff or full-time graduate student. Advisors/mentors who have part-time status (adjuncts, members from industry/government/nonprofit etc.) are not permitted. If you are a graduate student team, your advisor/mentor must be faculty or staff. This is to ensure that all competing students have an equal playing field and do not have an unfair advantage with an advisor/mentor who has industry/government/nonprofit experience.

Each team can only have ONE advisor/mentor.

I competed last year. Can I compete again?

As long as you didn’t win first place in any of the previous events, yes! Your school can certainly assemble another team, but it cannot have any members from the winning (first place) team.

How will teams be chosen?

The review committee will look at applications that:

1. are complete (all components were successfully completed by all team members)
2. exhibit creativity, professionalism, and detail in their formal adversarial reports
3. vary in team size (2-4 members)
4. reflect multiple disciplinary (not just technical) backgrounds
5. align with NSF’s commitment to broadening participation

How can I prepare?

Great question! Feel free to check out YouTube for some examples. You can also hear some of the 2020 Collegiate SECTF winning teams in their vish attempts via the CARE POD podcast. And of course, you are encouraged to listen to Alethe Denis‘ amazing vishing workshop that she delivered at the 2020 Collegiate SECTF event. You can also check out the How to OSINT and How to Phish webinars by Chris Kirsch, which were also delivered at the 2020 Collegiate SECTF event. Here is great list of resources put together by leading experts in the social engineering space.


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