Homeland Security Starts with Hometown Security

“Homeland Security Starts with Hometown Security” was the theme for the 2016 CyberThon event which was held at the National Naval Aviation Museum and the National Flight Academy (NFA), this past weekend on January 22 – 24.  Randy Ramos, President of The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) discussed the strategic importance of the event with the Pensacola Voice.  Ramos stated the importance of the event to give high school and college students the experience of hands-on interaction in cyber defense and engagement procedures during CyberThon weekend experience. Ramos also spoke to the importance of increasing minority student involvement in the future. There were cyber-security professionals from the Department of Defense, educational institutions, and the private sector firms like African-American owned Hixardt Technologies who collaborated as team members mentoring  students to grow Pensacola’s IT and cyber-security workforce.

Last year twenty students participated in CyberThon 2015.  The participation was expanded this year to include thirty-seven high school students, representing seven high schools and one home school across Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. This year there were also the first collegiate team of 11 members representing three post-secondary schools, and the first cyber security elementary school initiative which inspired thirty-three 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from Santa Rosa schools to enhance their cyber-security knowledge.

The Blue Angel’s Chapter of AFCEA was the convener of this year’s CyberThon along with the National Flight Academy, and a powerful group of sponsors including the Escambia Sheriff’s Office, Navy Federal Credit Union, Northrop Grumman, Gulf Power, Hixardt Technologies, Inc.. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the University of West Florida, Pensacola State College, FloridaWest, the new local economic development alliance that has spun off from the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and many more.  The mission of the AFCEA is to foster collaborative and ethical relationships between Government, Academia and Industry for the advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives in the local community.  CyberThon is in alignment with mission.

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