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Air Force Academy to graduate first three cyber majors

The Air Force Academy's fledgling cyberspace major will graduate its first three cadets this year during the June 2 ceremony at Falcon Stadium, superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the school's superintendent, said Tuesday.

And the Class of 2017 will have an even stronger cyber presence, with 17 cadets expected to graduate, Johnson said in her annual "State of the USAFA" address in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The academy launched its computer network security major at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. One class, that was newly- created that year, taught cadets to analyze and reverse-engineer viruses and other malicious software to figure out how they operate and how to stop them. Another class focused on computer forensics to build a chain of digital evidence on espionage or other criminal cases.

"The academic major of cyber is very much in need," Johnson said.

Johnson hopes that after the academy's Cyber Innovation Center program is launched, it will collaborate with the private sector to provide more educational opportunities for cadets and more insight for academy faculty on cybersecurity issues. The center will offer its first courses this fall.

The academy now has five cyber subject matter experts working out of a 2,000 square foot space, Johnson said. But she hopes that will soon grow. The academy has finished planning to renovate a 10,000 square-foot feet space on the east side of the academy's library into dedicated space for cyber majors. Renovation on that space should begin later this summer, Johnson said.

And this fall, the academy's new Cyber Innovation Center will offer its first courses.

The center will "bring together cadets, faculty and industry partners to devise and prototype solutions to real world problems," Johnson said.

The academy now has five cyber subject matter experts working out of a 2,000 square-foot space, Johnson said. But she hopes that will soon grow. The academy has finished plansning to renovate a 10,000 square-foot feet space on the east side of the academy's library into dedicated space for cyber majors. Renovation on that space should begin later this summer, Johnson said.

In all, the Air Force is planning to spend more than $58 million on the cyber center building, including $18 million for construction, as well as funding for operations and salaries for 28 staff members.

This year's graduation ceremony will be held June 2 at Falcon Stadium.

Follow @StephenLosey

Stephen Losey covers personnel, promotions, and the Air Force Academy for Air Force Times. He can be reached at slosey@airforcetimes.com.

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