By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published April 12, 2018
Air University’s Air Force Cyber College team, “Team Fightin’ Electrons,” pose with a check for one thousand dollars for winning first place in the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, March 17, 2018, Washington D.C. The team competed against 35 other teams during the two day competition, including the College of Information and Cyberspace studies and Johns Hopkins University. The Cyber College is the only team to win the competition twice. (Courtesy Photo)
Air University’s Cyber College is quickly making its mark as a dominant force in the cyber realm. A joint, international team from the college walked away with a first-place victory in the Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Challenge last month.
Since first competing in the annual competition in 2016, Cyber College has landed in a top spot each time: first place in 2016, second in 2017 and first again this year. They are the only team to place first more than once.
The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge is a two-day competition that brings together students from universities and colleges from across the country to compete in developing national security policy for fictional cyber disasters.
The Cyber College’s team “Team Fightin’ Electrons,” stood out among 35 other teams from 21 different academic institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, Georgetown University, Brown University, Columbia University and the College of Information and Cyberspace Studies.
“The world is ever-changing and the way we fight wars is changing with it; Air University is at the forefront of developing leaders who can operate within the cyber domain,” said Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, Air University commander and president, “The Air Force Cyber College’s performance proves the curriculum and the quality of education given here stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our civilian Ivy League university counterparts.”
Teams from the National Defense University and West Point came in second and third place this year, respectively. “This is quite an accomplishment,” said Sasa Shahwan, assistant director of the Atlantic Council Cyber Statecraft Initiative. “Cyber College brings a very professional team. It’s obvious their teams are well-trained and educated, and they always articulate themselves well to the judges.”
Much of the competition hinges on teams relaying responses to hypotheticals to the judges.
Past competitors have included Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
The team was composed of Maj. Jared Butler, Maj. Chad Wharton, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Cameron Thomas and Royal Air Force Wing Commander Jamie Meighan. Col. Clint Mixon, Cyber College commander, served as their coach.
The students come from all different backgrounds, transcending career fields and military branches, however, through the Cyber College they become qualified within the cyber domain. Mixon, for example, spent several years as an F-15E navigator.
“Our competition performance validates the curriculum being taught at the Air Force Cyber College as best-in-breed across academia,” Dr. Pano Yannakogeorgos, Air Force Cyber College dean. “We demonstrate an ability to take non-cyber career field leaders and make them outstanding strategists in the Cyber Domain in line with Air University's mission as a center for leadership education.”