May 25, 2019  

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USM to Host Cybersecurity Conference for Junior ROTC Students

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Junior ROTC cadets from the Jackson Public Schools and the Mobile County Public Schools will convene on The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus Sept. 29-30 for a unique conference focused on cybersecurity and coding.

The event is part of the iD8 (Ideate. Innovate. Iterate) program at USM. Dr. Julie Cwikla, director of Creativity & Innovation in STEM, serves as coordinator of the iD8 programs and events at USM.

This marks the second time that students from these area school systems will meet to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) content and challenges. The theme for this year’s conference is “Hacking for Defense.”

“This iD8 event will give students a wonderful opportunity to learn some of the latest in computing technologies and to engage in intriguing cybersecurity exercises,” said Dr. Andrew Sung, professor and director of the USM School of Computing.

Dan DeMott, technology director at USM, will serve as the opening speaker for the event. DeMott and Dr. Henry Jones, adjunct professor in the School of Computing, were co-instructors for the University’s new Hacking for Defense course that began this summer.

The event will feature addresses from other USM faculty members as well as a tours of the School of Computing and an extended visit to Camp Shelby, a renowned U.S. Army base located just south of Hattiesburg.

“A Hacking for Defense key element is getting outside the building and living a day in the boots of those who serve this great nation,” said DeMott. “Going to Camp Shelby will introduce these cadets to technology currently used today to prepare those who voluntarily serve in the military before they go in harm’s way. Solving problems are understanding the true problem as seen by those who implement and use this technology.”

Col. (Ret) Paul L. Willis, director of Army Instruction, Jackson Public Schools, noted that the experience would surely inspire some of cadets to seriously consider pursuing careers in technology or some other STEM field. 

“Just being on a university campus and exploring possible career options is directly aligned with our goal of ensuring our cadets are prepared for success at institutions of higher learning and/or in the workforce,” said Willis.  

Lt. Col. (Ret) Robert F. Barrow, director of Army Instruction, Mobile County Public School System, added: “These STEM opportunities at Southern Miss extend the summer STEM Leadership Academy we have organized for the past three years in Mobile, with the goal of connecting classroom learning and STEM career paths. We are getting our cadets ready for the workforce of tomorrow whether that's military or civilian.  Adding coding and cybersecurity to their STEM menu will only expand their view.”

To learn more about the conference, visit: