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NEWS | Feb. 11, 2019

SPAWAR's Cyber Education Team earns innovation awards

By Diane Owens Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic Public Affairs

A Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic team received a Department of Defense Acquisition Workforce Development Innovation Award Feb. 5, 2019, at the Pentagon for their work on a cyber education resource.

The team’s efforts led to the creation of the Cyber Education and Certification Readiness Facility based in Charleston, S.C.

Eleanor M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, presented the award to SSC Atlantic Executive Director Christopher Miller, Total Workforce Competency Lead Pamela K. Bell, CERF Lab Lead Fred Bisel and team members Wesley Jones and Kamau Buffalo.

The state-of-the-art facility was constructed in less than a year using excess government equipment, resulting in a cost avoidance of more than $1 million.

Since its opening in 2017, more than 500 employees have taken networking and operating system classes to learn about various off-the-shelf software and to achieve commercial certification. A second CERF opened recently in Virginia to train personnel at SSC Atlantic’s Hampton Roads sites and the development of a third lab to serve employees in New Orleans is underway.

“We are proud of the successes of the CERF and are working hard to continue to expand the capabilities and offerings,” said Ann Rideout, senior scientific technology manager, communications and networks. “Look for more great things to come.”

Offering the courses in-house rather than having employees travel to attend commercially-provided training has saved approximately $1.2 million and represents a major step forward in SSC Atlantic’s investment in credentialing its technical workforce and development of its cybersecurity specialists. During unscheduled time, students can come to the lab and use the equipment to reinforce concepts conveyed during formal training. 

On Oct. 16, 2018 the team also received a Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Innovation Excellence Acquisition Team of the Year Award at the Pentagon. Acquisition Excellence Awards recognize individuals and organizations that demonstrate ingenuity and superior performance acquiring products and services for the Navy and Marine Corps.

The outcome of the CERF team’s accomplishments is far-reaching," said Miller. "Not only are our team members being trained through the lab, but programs across the Navy and DoD enterprise are utilizing the CERF team and the lab’s capabilities. As a result, the team is providing cyber training to civilians and military members across the globe.”

Instructors and participants share experiences in CERF courses not traditionally offered in vendor training and cover topics on applying commercial technologies to unique and critical DoD and Navy applications used by the warfighter.

“Here, students know they are safe,” said Bisel. “This lab is a risk-free playground for learning networks that makes for more nuanced learning.”

SSC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable C4ISR, cyber and information technology capabilities.