LosFuzzys: An essential ingredient of TU Graz

LosFuzzys” is a group of young people interested in competing with others in so-called “capture-the-flag” competitions. Maybe you have heard about them. Maybe you read about them for the first time in this post. They are currently (Monday, Dec 19th, 2016) ranked at place 38 in the world. Tendency rising. Ten days ago, IAIK gave them a prize of 3000 Euros for their achievements.

I consider LosFuzzies an essential ingredient of our university life. Let me explain why.

  1. University is a place where imagination of the young ones meets experience of the old ones. The right mixture of these two ingredients creates new insights for humanity. Call it curiosity, call it knowledge, call it research.
    (http://mdg.vsb.cz/wiki/publ/A.N.Whitehead_on_the_function_of_a_university_.pdf)
  2. Some students, let’s call them “ordinary” students, quite often complain about their workload dominated by duties arising from day-to-day course work.
  3. Some teachers, let’s call them “ordinary” teachers, all too often complain about the seemingly too many lazy students not following their suggestions.
  4. Some students, let’s call them “extraordinary” students, use the available experience found at the university and embark on “making their own thing”. These are creators and not just followers.
  5. The students of (4) typically get together regularly and “do their thing”. They might, for instance, meet on Wednesday evenings in the IAIK seminar room, and train for the next capture-the-flag competition (https://ctftime.org/ctf-wtf/).
  6. These students do not need teachers for being active. Teachers noticing these students’ activities get rather worried when they see that students without the narrow guidance of teachers can create a working atmosphere in classroom far beyond the intensity of what a teacher might dream about having in her/his classroom.
  7. Students like those found in “LosFuzzies” obviously “burn” for a goal. The goal is twofold: Their intellectual curiosity is directed towards a concrete topic like “secure information systems”. As a group, they cooperate in becoming better. In addition to cooperation, their goal is also to become best by competing against others.
  8. Teachers like me, for instance, are amazed by the power emerging from the activities of such students as found in “LosFuzzys”; the reason for this amazement is that these teachers notice that they don’t have to pull anymore. All what is left for the teachers is to take care that the students’ energy drives this world to the better and not to the worse. It’s a question of ethics.
  9. A side effect of “burning” students is that they become experts and professionals in some area of expertise in a much shorter time than ordinary coursework can do. In the case of “LosFuzzys”, their expertise in understanding security and insecurity of IT-systems reaches far beyond of what can be taught in ordinary classes.
  10. As a teacher I feel lucky to have the guys of “LosFuzzies” in the room next to my office. I can feel the energy from this room whenever I am in my office. And as a teacher I sometimes dream that these were “my students”. What an arrogance.

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(photos by http://patrickklampfl.at/)

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