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Overview and Practice Challenge

The California Cyber Innovation Challenge (CCIC) is an annual gamified cybercrime scenario for middle school and high school students. It targets learning objectives defined by the NICE Framework.


ABOUT NICE Framework

The voluntary NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework (NICE Framework) was developed through a collaborative process by industry, academia, and government stakeholders. It establishes a taxonomy and common lexicon that describes cybersecurity work and is intended for use in both the public and private sectors. NIST does not validate or endorse any individual organization or its approach to using the NICE Framework. According to, as of August 2020, there are 67,195 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the State of California. 

a color-coded heat map displaying locations of participating schools in California from 2016 to 2020

Mapping to NICE STandards

CCI staff, students, and faculty adopted the NICE Framework for the California Cyber Innovation Challenge (CCIC). The CCIC focuses on providing California middle and high school students an engaging introduction to cybersecurity through an immersive, hands-on competition. The NICE Framework publication provides a guide to identify cybersecurity roles and skills. By leveraging the NICE Framework to conduct this competition, students learn about the foundations of cybersecurity, why cybersecurity is important, and future careers in cybersecurity. The NICE Framework is geared toward cybersecurity professionals. Our challenge was to adapt this framework for middle and high school students that are new to cybersecurity using a blended approach to expose students to different career fields and skillsets.


student challenge designer Bree Zedar works on a laptop

Tangible Impact

One former high school competitor, Luis Plascencia, is now part of the CCIC planning team. Upon graduating high school, he began an internship at CCI. He had an active role in designing the CCIC 2020 competition and is leading the technical development for the 2021 event. Having his perspective as a past competitor, as well as insights on this event has been invaluable to our team. Our goal is to expose more students in underserved communities to a career in cybersecurity by participating in the CCIC. We are amazed at how this challenge has catapulted many students like Luis to explore cybersecurity as a future career.

Luis Plascencia working on a computer at the CCIC 2018

We want to recognize the importance of each student’s cybersecurity career pathways, and their knowledge of the NICE Framework is paramount to their success.
Henry Danielson
Program Manager, California Cyber innovation challenge

CCIC Practice Challenge

Practice Room

Start by entering the practice room, following the prompts, and solving the puzzle. There are walkthrough resources available if you need help. 

Enter Practice Room

Walkthrough Guide

If you get stuck, you can give yourself step-by-step hints using this PDF walkthrough guide. The guide tells you how to complete the practice room from start to finish, so don't peek unless you want help! 

Download Walkthrough Guide

Video Walkthrough

If you prefer an in-depth explanation of how to solve the practice challenge, watch this walkthrough presentation to see the context and thought process for each step. 

Watch Walkthrough Video

Learn More

NICE Framework Summary Presentation

Henry Danielson presented the CCIC NICE Framework implementation at the 2020 NICE Conference hosted by Florida International University.

Watch Presentation Recording

CCIC Full Competition Demo

See a walkthrough demonstration both parts of the CCIC 2020 — the evidence collection, and the evidence analysis. 

Watch Demo video

Register for CCIC 2021

If you or your school would like to compete in the CCIC 2021, check out the event site for information and the team application. 

Learn about the CCIC 2021