University Students Learn About Cyber Mission
(May 18, 2009)
|BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, LA (5/11/2009) -- A group of students from Louisiana
Tech University in Ruston, La., got a first-hand look at how Air Force men and
women conduct cyberspace operations during a tour of Air Force Cyber Command,
(Provisional) here May 5.
According to Louisiana Tech professor Dr. Brian Etheridge, director of the
honors program, the students recently completed an interdisciplinary honors
program at the school entitled "Studies in Cyberspace," which brought together
11 professors from six different disciplines -- computer science, engineering,
architecture, political science, English and history.
Dr. Etheridge said students from that class were invited to visit AFCYBER (P) to
see how security policy to protect the nation's cyber infrastructure is being
devised and implemented.
|Col. Paul Barzler, Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional) staff judge advocate, welcomes a group of students from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La. The students visited AFCYBER (P) May 5 as a follow up to a recent course, "Studies in Cyberspace," and to learn more about the military's current cyber efforts.
"The purpose was to reinforce what the students learned and heard in their
course work, as well as bring them up-to-date on current events in the Air
Forces' cyber organization," said Capt. Jon Boling, AFCYBER (P) commander's
action group. "Because the honors course is inter-disciplinary in nature, this
trip offered a military cyberspace perspective to bright students from various
backgrounds, allowing for discussions that ranged from technical to practical."
The students in the group are majoring in everything from engineering and
computer science to pre-law, business and communication design. However, Dr.
Etheridge said all share an interest in the cyber field.
"(The students) are interested in all aspects (of cyber)," the professor said.
"They are interested in the technical issues, but they are also keenly aware of
and intrigued by the social, political and cultural implications of this new
Captain Boling said during their tour, the students were treated to up-to-date
discussions on cyber in the Air Force, as well as cyber research and
development, current developments in national cyber law and the realities of Air
Force network operations.
"The students toured the Air Force Network Operations Center and saw first-hand
how the Air Force watches its networks for malicious activity, as well as how it
could respond in a cyber emergency," he said.
Dr. Etheridge said the group was most interested in this portion of their tour.
"They were very impressed to see the developing nerve center of the Air Force's
cyber infrastructure," he said.
While the AFCYBER (P) team has given tours to a variety of groups since the
command's standup in September of 2007, Captain Boling feels that student groups
like this one from Louisiana Tech are especially important.
"We enjoy the opportunity to reach out to students and anyone interested in the
Air Force's mission in cyberspace," he said. "Through education and transparent
discourse, we seek to raise the awareness of national debates in cyberspace, and
we always welcome the chance to interest sharp students in a possible future
cyber career in the Air Force."
Working within their own educational programs as well as community colleges and
universities, Air Force officials are striving to grow future cyber operators.
"Over the past three years, local colleges and schools worked directly with
members of the AFCYBER (P) staff to develop mutual forums of interest between
the command and academia," Captain Boling said. "As AFCYBER (P) transitions to
the Air Force Space Command staff, the cyber relationships developed with
academia have transitioned to the Center for Cyberspace Research at the Air
Force Institute of Technology."
Captain Boling said this educational foundation is something that will continue
in the future as Air Force officials expand their base of cyber operators.
"The work over the past three years developed incredible momentum in integrating
cyberspace curricula into colleges and high schools, a critical aspect of
developing expert cyber operators for the future," he said. "The Air Force
Institute of Technology is poised to continue that momentum, and continues to
expanded cyber discourse with dozens of universities across the country."
While the Louisiana Tech students may not all become cyber operators for the Air
Force, Dr. Etheridge said they enjoyed their tour and learning about what the
military is doing to keep up with changing technology cyberspace, adding that
changes in cyber over the last few years have less to do with the technology,
than with our nation's attitude toward it.
"I think that we as a nation are much more aware of our vulnerabilities than we
were a few years ago," he said, "and we are happy that our nation's military is
working hard to defend our cyber infrastructure."
Article and photo by Carla Pampe
AFCYBER (Provisional) Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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