Chris Fenton, left, and Eric Sandoval
Dalton State Computer Networking Students Chris Fenton, left, and Eric Sandoval placed 25th in international NetRiders competition sponsored by Cisco Networking Academy.

Two students from Dalton State College placed 25th in a North American interactive skills competition that tests information communications technology and networking skills.  After placing first in regional and state competitions, Chris Fenton and Eric Sandoval came in 25th overall of American and Canadian teams in the Cisco® Networking Academy® Netriders Skills Challenge.

Their proctor and guide through the NetRiders process was Todd Phelps, Instructor in Computer Networking and Electronics Technology, at Dalton State.

More than 1,000 college and university students from across the U.S. and Canada competed in the contest which consisted of three rounds. Phelps explained that Fenton and Sandoval successfully passed a 100-question written test in the first round that qualified them, along with 10 other regional winners, for state competition. The Dalton State pair scored highest on another 100-question test, successfully winning the state competition and advancing to the NetRiders finals.

The final round, Phelps said, consisted of a theoretical exam and large-scale network simulation exam. Fenton and Sandoval placed 25th in the U.S. and Canada NetRiders Theater Finale which involved teams representing 42 states and five Canadian provinces.

“That in itself is a remarkable accomplishment, but what makes it even more amazing is that neither Chris nor Eric has completed his Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) education yet; Eric is only halfway through the program and Chris has finished three of the four classes,” Phelps said. “These students scored higher than students of more experienced teams, many of whom had already earned their Cisco certification.”

“I felt very confident with what I had learned in my classes regarding switching and routing,” said Fenton, a resident of Dalton who expects to earn his Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Networking and Information Technology this May and then pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Sandoval, of Chatsworth, said, “The hands-on labs with actual equipment really helped to prepare us for the NetRiders competition.” His plans are to earn his AAS next December and work in computer networking, eventually earning his bachelor’s degree in computer networking from Dalton State when that four-year degree is developed locally.

“We are very proud of Chris and Eric’s accomplishments,” said Instructor Phelps. “We hope that their experience will encourage other Cisco Academy students to test themselves and compete as well.”

“Congratulations to all the students who competed in this exciting event,” said Joni Blakeslee, senior manager, Cisco Networking Academy, U.S. and Canada Field Operations. “We are delighted that Cisco Networking Academy has been able to provide this opportunity for students to showcase their skills and compete with their peers in an immersive hands-on competition. We look forward to seeing these talented young people continue to pursue technical education in the growing information technology field.”

Cisco Networking Academy is a global technology education program that develops curricula to provide students with networking and technical skills to prepare them for 21st century careers.
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