Press Release: Coastline College Wins the Inaugural Collegiate Incident Response Competition for Undergraduate Students (CIRCUS)

Garden Grove, CA | April 27, 2024

Coastline College competed against four other community college teams to become the first-place winners of the inaugural CIRCUS competition hosted by the Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) at Coastline College. This year there were six teams and a total of 36 students participating.

Dr. Brandon Brown -Director CIRCUS, Nelson Navarete, Marley Koraat-Liu, Aaron Pilgrim, Joseph Barlev, Cameron Cisneros -Team Capt., Seon Motley, Kyle Wood, Andrea Barios Team Coach
Coastline College CIRCUS Competition Team (L to R): Dr. Brandon Brown (Director, CIRCUS), Nelson Navarete, Marley Koraat-Liu, Aaron Pilgrim, Joseph Barlev, Cameron Cisneros (Team Captain), Seon Motley, Kyle Wood, Andrea Barios (Team Coach)

The competition trains the next generation of cybersecurity professionals amid a current skills shortage for jobs focused in Incident Response and Digital Forensics. The competition is comprised of two phases. The first phase, lasting about a week, tasks the students with analyzing a small network that has been compromised and ascertaining what happened. From this, they are to write a comprehensive report on their findings. In the second phase, the teams are provided an hour to be questioned by legal professionals as to the content, accuracy, and findings in this report. Our judges in this first competition were from the U.S. Department of Justice, including the U.S. Attorney’s office, and the FBI.

“The scenario developed for this group of students was fun, all the while being very realistic,” said Dr. Brandon Brown, Director of the CIRCUS competition and associate director at the CAE. “The challenge this year was on finding the attacks that occurred and providing the evidence that could be used in future legal proceedings.”

The competition’s unique focus on Incident Response and Evidence Handling procedures is designed to assess each student’s depth of understanding and competency. The CIRCUS is more than just a competitive environment though; our staff and volunteers work closely with participating competitors throughout the year to help develop their professional networks and provide mentorship.

“We are very thankful for the wonderful support we’ve received from the Orange County Regional Consortium who provided funding to get this competition launched and to the schools from Orange County who participated. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students to hone their skills and gain confidence while developing experience and their skillset,” added Brown. “Training the next generation of cyber professionals is critical and events like CIRCUS are contributing to this cause.”

In addition to Coastline College’s first place finish, a team from Saddleback College placed second, and third place went to the team from Long Beach City College.

The competition was supported by the staff from the Western Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (WRCCDC) who provided technical support and developed the competition environment.

More information on WRCCDC, including how your organization or college/university can get involved in their competitions like CIRCUS, can be found at

Brandon Brown, PhD. PMP
Assistant Professor Coastline College
Director WRCCDC

About Coastline College:

Coastline College is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. For eight consecutive years, Coastline College was selected as one of the top 150 colleges by The Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence which is considered the most prestigious designation for community colleges. Coastline delivers flexible courses and services that cultivate and guide diverse student populations across the globe to complete pathways leading to the attainment of associate degrees, certificates, career readiness, and transfer to four-year colleges/universities.

Coastline College
11460 Warner Av.
Fountain Valley, CA 92708