For the fourth successive year, Action Impact produced the innovative and futuristic “Cyber Quest 2017”, an annual event for the National Electronic Security Authority (NESA) at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC).  Now a globally acclaimed education program in its field, “Cyber Quest” is designed to motivate school students across the UAE to pursue an IT security education by bringing the challenges and rewards of a career in cyber security to life through a series of missions, challenges, and contests over four action-packed days.

Bringing education to life

Working with the theme of “There’s a Super Hero in Everyone, the in-house team at Action Impact set the scene by staging a specially designed environment aptly named Cyber City in the style of DC Comic’s Gotham City.  The vast space was made all-the-more impressive with large lifelike scenic elements, intricate theatrical lighting and extensive projected video, giving the students a truly profound event experience.
“We wanted to create a space that was markedly different from the students’ typical classroom that would immediately excite them and capture their imaginations”, explains Action Impact’s Producer Renée Schmidt. “The theme was brought to life as soon as the students stepped into the venue, creating a mission room where they received their briefing and then to board a spaceship to magically transport them to Cyber City.”

Solving real-world cyber security problems

Once in Cyber City, each workshop zone was cleverly constructed to create a bank, police station and internet café, each presenting the students with a real-world cybersecurity problem to solve. The experiences were rich and varied, with students working in teams to attack and defend their networks and participating in workshops about car and drone hacking. The top 90 students of the Quest participated in the flagship competition, Capture the Flag. This coding and hacking jeopardy-style competition has become globally recognized over the past four years with thousands of spectators viewing the contest as it unfolds. Action Impact carefully considered how to bring elements of the competition to life for the audience and built on the previous tradition of activating a stunning visual and audio hullabaloo sequence in real time at the winning moment of the contest, creating an exhilarating climax to the event.

Harnessing young talent

By targeting mid and high school students, NESA aims to stimulate an early curiosity and interest in cyber security. “Cyber Quest” is open to all schools in the UAE and encourages students of all abilities to learn more about a career in IT security as well as allowing NESA to identify particularly gifted students. Mike Wain, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Action Impact explains his passion for the project, “Producing the annual Cyber Quest event calls for our team to dig deep, unleash their creativity and get themselves back into the mindset of a student. The future generation of today demonstrate extraordinary technical abilities and making the whole experience genuinely engaging was particularly challenging.  But reflecting on the huge success of the event and seeing how hungry everyone is for next year makes us all very proud indeed.”