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Students To Learn Cybersecurity At Cyberthon

"It actually started off as an idea on the back of a napkin" said  Doug Underhill, Escambia County Commissioner for District 2. He's talking about Cyberthon, a three day event at the National Flight Academy this weekend that will give young people experience in fighting a cyber attack. He said that bringing young people in to work with technical experts will inspire the next generation.

Cyberthon will be this Friday through Sunday and is hosted by Hixart Technologies and the AFCEA Blue Angels Pensacola Chapter. Randy Ramos, the local President of AFCEA says a lot of people are involved in the project. "It's industry, it's government, it's the University of West Florida, it's the Innovation Institute, the Center for Cybersecurity here at UWF coming together with local sponsors and supporters and, of course, a lot of volunteers". Ramos says the students will work with professionals and learn about cybersecurity.

Raising that awareness is important. Commissioner Doug Underhill says there will be more jobs in cybersecurity "than the VT Aerospace program will make during its entire duration." Underhill also says the weekend will bring a lot of people together to give the students an authentic experience. The Flight Academy has been "rerigged" to be able to simulate a "cyber fight" rather than an aviation fight.

During the weekend each student will be paired with a volunteer who will act as a guide through the various cyber-attacks and possible defenses. AFCEA's Randy Ramos says that students today have grown up with technology and should be right at home, likening tracking down a cyber attack to solving a puzzle.

And once the weekend is over, Commissioner Underhill hopes students will go on and use these skills right here in Northwest Florida. He says there are educational opportunities as well as jobs in cybersecurity all over Northwest Florida.

The first Cyberthon will be held at the National Flight Academy this Friday through Sunday, January 23 - 25.

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.