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Boot Camp develops future cyber warriors
Posted: 07/12/2011 by AFIT Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio -- Thirty-one Air Force ROTC Cadets and Navy ROTC Midshipmen are today fast on their way to becoming DoD's newest cyber warriors at the Air Force Institute of Technology.

The future officers, already midway through the 8-week Advanced Course in Engineering Cyber Security Boot Camp, will be soon be manning the front lines defending against the increasing daily cyber attacks to DoD critical computing networks.

In response to the growing number of cyber security exploitations and attacks, AFIT's Center for Cyberspace Research tailored the ACE course curriculum to meet the demand for those individuals with the talents to develop cyber security solutions. Today, ACE is the nation's only cyber security program for ROTC cadets that combines cyber warfare education, hands-on training, and research internships with Air Force scientist and engineers, along with leadership development activities.

The program has deep technical foundations and is organized into several components, according to Dr. Richard Raines, CCR Director. One component comprises cyber warfare lectures on topics that include formal security concepts, cyber attack, computer network defense, digital forensics, reverse software engineering and cryptography. All lectures are taught by faculty from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and affiliated CCR researchers.

"Since I'm getting a lot of basic knowledge in the ACE program, I'll be able to concentrate on more advanced concepts in my undergraduate classes," said Keely Jo Carrigan, an ACE student from the University of Texas at San Antonio, who is majoring in Computer Science.

Another component of the ACE program is hands-on research experience through internships with leading cyber professionals at Wright-Patterson to include the 711th Human Performance Wing, Air Force Research Laboratory's Virtual Combat Laboratory and AFIT professors.

"I feel like I'm being challenged and developing a thirst for more information about a variety of subjects related to cyber warfare. ACE will help me to determine my future goals," said ACE student Samuel Thomas Clemens from the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota.

In addition to academics and research, ACE participants engage in leadership development activities with their active duty counter parts. Activities include organized unit physical training sessions and staff rides to the Air Force Museum, Perryville Battlefield, NASA Plum Brook Station, Firing Arms Training Simulation facility and Warfighter Training Center.

The "hands-on" component involves ACE students setting up and securing web and file servers. All of this experience culminates with "Hackfest" exercise on August 11 and 12, where two teams compete in a large-scale cyber warfare event using cyber defense tactics, techniques, and procedures they learned over the summer in the context of a military operation.

The cadets and midshipmen are scheduled to graduate August 11 at the Wright-Patterson Club.