Authored by Wayne Heilman. This article was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
The Air Force Academy’s CyberWorx program is meeting with experts from a variety of industries and Air Force personnel who have received cybersecurity training this week in Colorado Springs to develop a cyber training model that brings the newest information to the service’s personnel more quickly.
The Air Force Education and Training Command can take up to 18 months to make changes in its training curriculum, meaning that some of the curriculum in its cybersecurity training is outdated by the time Air Force personnel complete it, said Lt. Col. Doug Howe, who is leading the five-day project to come up with the new training model.
The workshop, cosponsored by the Center for Technology, Research and Commercialization at the Catalyst Campus, includes 32 participants from the cybersecurity, computer science, engineering, health care, computer gaming, marketing and several other industries to develop a more flexible and responsive training model, he said.
“We want to ensure that the training they (Air Force personnel) are presented with is relevant on day one and when they graduate from training,” Howe said. “We are looking at ways to innovate across the board starting with the policies and procedures all the way down to the basic technology.”
The workshop, hosted at Colorado Springs-based satellite communications provider RT Logic, uses a concept called “design thinking” in which those involved determine how to solve a problem and how they want that solution to work rather than asking an engineer to solve a technical problem, getting a solution six months later and being told who to interact with it to meet their needs, Howe said. Design thinking benefits from a multidisciplinary approach that brings a variety of perspectives and can help speed acceptance of the solution they develop, he said.
“We have six groups of five or six participants all looking at the same problem with five days to come up with four or five ideas to investigate. One benefit is people have less emotional investment in their own solution. Another benefit is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money trying to solve the problem,” Howe said. “We are trying to make our cyber training less rigid and more fluid and meaningful. We want to speed up the process to bring in more cyber folks and get them to an operational status in a shorter amount of time.”
Air Force cybersecurity training for officers takes nearly four months on the initial skills and doesn’t include mission or weapons elements. A full complement of cyber training can take up to three years, which means that elements of the training likely will be outdated in the fast-changing cybersecurity field, Howe said.