News Release

Central and Eastern European Students Win Prestigious Cisco Networking Competition

Contestants from 24 Countries Entered Virtual Contest to Win Five US Study Trips Sponsored by Cisco
Jul 24, 2008

LONDON, July 24, 2008 - Cisco today announced the five winners of the prestigious international Internet networking competition, NetRiders, held online for the first time across 24 countries on July 9. The winners will go on a fully sponsored study tour to Silicon Valley in January 2009.

NetRiders competition: Cristian Sandescu at work

Csilla Bessenyei from Hungary, Boris Dekovic from Croatia, Grega Preseren from Slovenia, Cristian Sandescu from Romania, , and Pavel Stefanov from Bulgaria each claimed the top prizes in a competition that was the first of its kind for the Cisco® Networking Academy®.

Csilla Bessenyei said: "This wasn't my first challenge in networking, but it was the best. The opportunity to travel to the USA gave me an extra incentive to do my best. I've always loved networking competitions, but this was the most lifelike and most real test. I am really excited about my trip, and I'm looking forward to finding out more about networking and about how the industry works. Congratulations to the other NetRiders, and I wish them the best of luck in the future."

In total, more than 70 nominated Networking Academy students representing 24 countries took part in competition, which was the first simultaneous virtual Networking Academy contest of this size. Participants were hand-picked by their academies to represent their countries. The students were required to perform a variety of tasks over the course of the day, which included answering technical multiple choice questions, doing hands-on routing configurations, and handling a simulated technical support call.

Sandescu said: "NetRiders offers a new dimension to the Networking Academy. As well as being a thrilling experience in itself and a strong community-building occasion, you know that as a student, you are getting a chance to broadcast your skills to the world."

Over the course of the last decade, gaps between the demand for, and supply of, information technology (IT) professionals have continued to grow. A study commissioned by Cisco in the last two years reveals that gaps of as much as 30 percent may be hampering growth and productivity across Europe and the Middle East. In Western Europe, countries such as Germany, France and the UK are facing average shortages of 14 percent, while in the Ukraine, as many as 28,000 skilled people are needed to fill the demand. This translates to a shortfall of over 33 percent, which is putting strain on the IT sector.

Penny Bradley, the student advocacy manager and organizer of the event, stresses the importance of events like NetRiders:"The great thing about competitions like this is that they provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate not only learning but also skills for the market."

John Edwards, director of the Networking Academy in European and Emerging Markets, believes that "competitions such as NetRiders are an excellent opportunity for students to showcase their networking skills, bringing a positive international experience for the students and helping to strengthen the student academy community."

The winning students will be flying to San Jose, Calif., in January, where they will spend a week at Cisco headquarters, meeting with senior executives, systems engineers and other experts who will answer questions and share information with them. They will also have a chance to meet representatives of Cisco partners and other IT organizations.

Stefanov is looking forward to the trip: "I really enjoyed taking part in this competition. It was exciting and challenging and an opportunity for us to compete with our fellow students around the world. On top of that, the chance to spend a week in San Jose is just amazing. I'm really can't wait to pack my bags and get on the plane."

About Cisco Networking Academy

Launched in 1997, Cisco Networking Academy is a partnership between Cisco, education, business, government and community organizations around the world, aimed at nurturing IT professionals. The program employs an e-learning model, using a combination of Web-based and instructor-led training along with a hands-on lab environment to teach students how to design, build and maintain computer networks. Worldwide, more than 2 million students have graduated from a total of approximately 10,000 academies in more than 165 countries.