Two students have completed developmental training modules as part of the Space and Missile Defense Command’s Underserved Community Cybersecurity and Engineering Educational Development initiative and are now prepared to transition into new assignments directly supporting the command.
Cyber Force Incubator modules are designed to increase students’ exposure to cybersecurity and other science, technical, engineering and mathematics fields and leverage minority high school and university talent into the SMDC workforce. Roddeja Keyonna Moorer and Kiah Olivia Warner utilized these modules to achieve a standard level of knowledge and prepare for challenging, real world opportunities in the next phase of SUCCEED.
“I wanted to participate in the SUCCEED program, because I wanted to learn more about the cybersecurity field in hopes of potentially pursuing this field of study in the future,” Warner, a computer science student at New Century Technology High School in Huntsville, said. “The program itself has been very enlightening. I am grateful that I was given this opportunity at such a young age. The highlight for me has been in learning more about the field of cybersecurity and its functionality.”
A CFI module refers to a particular training topic or learning objective such as network security or encryption. Students participate in the CFI to refresh or familiarize themselves with the basics and fundamentals of cybersecurity.
“Some of my difficulties with the Cyber Force Incubator modules were networking and the 3D Sketch modules. I found some of those particular concepts harder to understand,” Warner said. “The SUCCEED program has helped me figure out what fields of study I would like to potentially pursue in college. The program has also helped me to gain a better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I would definitely recommend this program to other students.”
CFI is currently geared toward cybersecurity roles but also includes important topics such as preparing for and maintaining a security clearance, military and civilian rank and structure, and a general introduction to working in the federal government. The command intends for all SUCCEED students to receive this training, as these topics are essential to preparing students at both the high school and college levels for government careers.
“The CFI modules provide students with a deep immersion into cybersecurity to prepare them for the wide range of duties that make up this career field,” Terry Carlson, SMDC chief cyber strategist, said. “Many are seeing cybersecurity for the first time when they enter the CFI, so it is an essential component of our program. We want our future engineers, scientists and programmers to have a solid understanding of the importance of cybersecurity in all career fields. As they enter into the working portion of their internships they will bring this knowledge to the work they perform. Many will work directly in the cybersecurity field but others will be engineers and will incorporate cyber hygiene into their products.”
Carlson said Warner will be with the program for another year and he plans to have her work on some new CFI modules under development to give the program a perspective for teaching cybersecurity to the young talented individuals who will work through these in the future. He added that the command has hired Moorer, who completed the CFI curriculum and is graduating from college. She will work in the command’s Cyber Security Division at its Redstone Arsenal headquarters.
Moorer said she became a part of the SUCCEED program because she knew that it was filled with great opportunities.
“I was confident in knowing that I will be able to network with different people who can help me continue to persevere toward my dreams,” Moorer, a senior and computer information systems major at Alabama State University, said. “It’s just an opportunity that I know doesn’t come easy and is worth going for. In the end, I was proven to be right.”
Although she enjoyed the program, Moorer said the exams of the CFI modules were difficult.
“The exams weren’t really testing you on general information about each topic. Instead, you were given real-life scenarios, which is a bit more challenging,” Moorer said. “It reminds you of practice questions you’ll normally see when studying for the security-plus exam. Sometimes, the general information you studied becomes useless when taking the exam.”
Moorer said she wants to become a mentor for future students to be able to encourage them and provide a helping hand.
“For those of you who are considering joining the SUCCEED program, do not hesitate. Take advantage of the opportunity! You will learn a lot of valuable information, and come in contact with some wonderful people,” she said. “Although at times the CFI modules may become difficult, it’s worth pushing through. I am a living witness. Your tunnel may be dark along the way, but there’s always light at the end.”
SUCCEED began as a joint initiative between SMDC and the University of Alabama in Huntsville Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education to create a talent pipeline and reach students at underserved high schools and universities across the state and beyond.