FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance is the economic development organization for Pensacola and Escambia County.

 Event Helps Grow Cyber Security Jobs for Escambia County

Cyberthon in its second year will be bigger and better with more students and a brand new cyber playing field. Organizers are anticipating to more than double student attendance over last year’s inaugural event  with up to 60 or more students attending CyberThon 2016

CyberThon 2016 will be held January 22-24 at the Naval Flight Academy aboard NAS Pensacola. This innovative educational event brings together community leaders, cyber experts and a cadre of cyber competitors from local schools to witness and participate in real‐world cyber operations and defense methods. Teams of high school students are placed in the position of newly hired IT professionals tasked as the first responders for cybersecurity threat detection and response of a small company. With mentoring and guidance from local cyber experts, teams acquire hands-on experience with security tools and defense tactics, finding cybersecurity vulnerabilities and hardening the IT infrastructure to prevent, mitigate, and deter cyber attackers and maintain an efficient system and network operations.

Escambia County District 2 Commissioner Doug Underhill believes that cyber security workforce training is of vital importance to our economic future. “For our kids, this is how you will break generational poverty. If you can do the job, you get the job. “

According to Underhill, unique and exciting opportunities like Cyberthon are necessary in the fast moving Cyber Security world. “The industry moves so fast. There is a 16-year educational pipeline, and we have no idea what the technology will be in 16 years. Technology is measured in months. “

We must constantly work to keep students in the pipeline in an industry that moves so quickly. This year, elementary students will be observing the activities at Cyberthon, “We need to capture the imagination and get them in the pipeline early, “ Underhill said, “We are raising the workforce that will be there to answer the call.”

Brand new, dedicated computer network equipment has been purchased to serve as the “cyber range” on which teams will participate in the CyberThon exercises. This is a tremendous improvement to our first event and provides a solid foundation upon which to build as CyberThon expands even further in the future.

According to organizer Randy Ramos, CEO of Global Business Solutions and President of AFCEA’s Blue Angels Pensacola Chapter, the technology behind Cyberthon is even more exciting this year.

“The cyber experts have been working diligently building ESXi servers, allocating storage space on a SAS, building Virtual Switches and a whole lot more,” said Ramos.  “This year, we are preparing to support six to eight teams. 

He added, “To support efficient scalability, CyberThon will operate on one environment that will be cloned to the number of teams that participate.  This way our focus can be on creating a fully functional, high-performance environment, and mentors will only need to familiarize themselves with one environment while supporting multiple defense scenarios and gameplay. “

Help Promote Cyberthon and Cyber Security Education

 It is not too late to get involved.  CyberThon 2016 Sponsorship is on pace with last year’s financial support. However, last year only twenty students participated. This year, approximately 60 students will participate. 

Right now, Pine Forest is the only local high school with an IT/Cyber career academy.  If additional sponsorships totaling $50,000 are raised before January 31, organizers can create four more high school IT/Cyber academies and increase Cyber Education, Certification, and Workforce Development Opportunities for Northwest Florida students.  If you are interested in sponsoring Cyberthon and the academies  CLICK HERE

Organizers are also still actively seeking cyber security/computer network professionals to serve as volunteer mentors to the students. One of our biggest challenges will be finding enough mentors to keep pace with the demand of added students. Interested mentors can register  HERE

Interested students can also submit applications at
HERE  f or consideration to attend CyberThon 2016
Wishing you a prosperous and happy 2016!
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