Schooling at an early age, an appeal to patriotism and a government program that trades tuition support for public sector work may be necessary to produce the skilled cyber professionals so badly needed across the spectrum of technology jobs in the United States. While the current number of cyber workers is woefully insufficient, the demand increases. For government, the cyber threat escalates daily. For industry, cyber applications proliferate constantly.
Recruiting and maintaining a cybersecurity workforce is a complicated challenge for the government. According to the Information System Security Certification Consortium, 85 percent of cybersecurity professionals would consider leaving their current jobs. Information technologists do not need to search for positions that are exciting, respect their expertise, help them become more marketable and pay well because as many as 18 percent of non-active job seekers are contacted daily by employers seeking them out.
The energy in the room was palpable and sporadic buzzing and murmurs were heard as a panel of successful women in the cyber world on Wednesday shared tales of their challenges, opportunities, educational paths and hopes for improving the environment for future generations, seeking to make a difference.
The third annual CyberThon event, held at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, provided hands-on cybersecurity defense training to students of many ages who worked to defeat simulated cybersecurity threats to an online banking network.
More than 140 Florida-based students from dozens of schools across the northwest participated in CyberThon 2017, a challenge event hosted by AFCEA’s Pensacola “Blue Angels” Chapter. After two days of spirited competition, teams from the University of West Florida (UWF) and J.M. Tate High School took first place in the college and high school divisions, respectively.
It is said that leaders aren’t born, they’re made—and Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski embodies the notion. Motivated early on by her strong and determined mother, and then tested in her pursuit to prevail at a male-dominated career in a male-dominated world, she inspires today’s young women seeking to become the next generation of scientists, technology experts, engineers and mathematicians. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA address the issue in a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM.
The foundation to build the next generation of scientists, technology experts, engineers and mathematicians must be set in elementary school, particularly if the nation is going to include women in its pool of qualified STEM candidates. The United States trails other industrialized nations in education, particularly in math and science. One set of results ranked the United States 35th out of 64 countries in math and 27th in science. SIGNAL Media and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA address the issue in a multi-month project to highlight women in STEM.
SIGNAL Media today launches a multi-month project to highlight women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, most commonly referred to as STEM. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 1984, women earned 37 percent of college degrees in STEM fields. Fast-forward 26 years, the number had dropped to just 12 percent. SIGNAL and AFCEA International’s Women in AFCEA seek to learn why.
The world needs at least 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals who do not exist—a labor shortage created by the increase in frequency and severity of cyber attacks and employers all fishing from the same pond, said Michael Cameron, vice president for business development, cyber and cybersecurity at Leidos, at the NITEC 2016 cyber conference.
Solutions exist to help bridge the gap, including a detailed effort developed by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, a collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.
Recruiting for a qualified military and civilian workforce for the U.S. Defense Department's cybersecurity mission has proven successful so far, but retaining the force remains to be seen, cyber commanders told Congress during a hearing.
Dwindling coffers spawned by more than a decade of wars, among other reasons, have contributed to the U.S. Defense Department’s downward slant toward losing its technological superiority over other nations—and more importantly, over its adversaries. Government, academia and industry all are struggling to find, train and retain the best and the brightest of engineers, scientists and mathematicians, compounding an already difficult challenge, said Katrina McFarland, assistant defense secretary for acquisition.
Get your motors running …
Students from 27 middle schools across New Mexico—some who might aspire to be automotive engineers—will vie this Saturday in Albuquerque in a race, a design competition and an optional oral presentation. The New Mexico Electric Car Challenge will pit 46 teams against each other as students use science and math concepts in creative ways to create the winning design.
High school students from six schools across the nation will split $50,000 in scholarships after competing in the CyberPatriot VI competition, a culminating tournament in which participants tested strategies to defend computers and networks against cyber attacks. CyberPatriot kicked off in November, with roughly 1,600 students from all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada, and Defense Departments Dependents Schools in Europe and the Pacific vying for a chance to prove their concepts the best at the National Finals Competition, which wrapped up March 29, 2014.
The 2014 winning teams are:
For the September issue of SIGNAL, I wrote an article about a new effort at AFCEA designed to spur innovation and rapid acquisition in defense technology. Dubbed PlugFests, the events are managed by the Rapid Integration Innovation Process (RI2P) special interest group, which is dedicated to showing the value of such events to government and industry.
Apply Now for CyberPatriot III
The Air Force Association (AFA) is now collecting applications for CyberPatriot III-a nationwide competition that aims to educate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to foster the next generation of national security professionals in the United States.