Friday, May 8, 2015

USNA Midshipmen Recognized by President Obama for Achievement

U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Midshipmen traveled to the White House May 7 to be recognized by President Obama for winning the 15th annual Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX) in April.

Midshipmen met with President Obama in the Diplomatic Room to be congratulated on their success and later met members of the National Security Council to discuss matters relating to cyber security.

Official White House photo by Lawrence Jackson

“The midshipmen were ecstatic and excited to have had the opportunity to be recognized for their accomplishment,” said Capt. Paul J. Tortora, USNA Center for Cyber Security Studies Director. “The fact that the president is highlighting this for the first time in the 10 year competition’s history is great for the program, the midshipmen, and the Naval Academy.”

CDX is a cyber-security exercise in which students from service academies design and build computer networks and defend them against intrusions by the National Security Agency/Central Security Services (NSA/CSS).

This year, a core team of 20 midshipmen triumphed over teams from the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Air Force Institute of Technology and Royal Military College of Canada. This is the first time in 5 years that the Naval Academy has won the event.

“This was a fantastic opportunity to recognize these talented Midshipmen for winning our nation’s top exercise in Cyber Defense,” said VADM Ted Carter, USNA Superintendent, who was present at the White House for the meeting.  “Our efforts in cyber education, training and competition continue to stand out and confirm the U.S. Naval Academy's role as a leader in Cyber Education.

Four members of the class of 2015, nearing graduation, May 22, attended the event including Midshipman 1st Class Devon Budzitowski, Aaron Fleming, Xisen Tian, and Zane Markel, the captain of the team.

“Each of the seniors attending the meet-and-greet today will commission as an information warfare officer upon graduation,” said Tortora. “They will be taking the security tools that they’ve learned at the Naval Academy and taking them into the Fleet, just a few weeks from now.”

Next week the team will meet with Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander, U.S. Cyber Command Director, National Security Agency Chief, Central Security. Adm. Rogers will present the CDX trophy to the team during a ceremony next week in Memorial Hall.

“I’m so proud of these midshipmen for all of the hard work that they’ve put into the training and practice that they’ve been doing since January,” said Tortora. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for them to be recognized by the president today and next week by the secretary of the Navy and the director of Cyber Command.”

“We plan to keep the trophy for several years this time and keep it in the new cyber building when it’s built,” said Tortora.

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