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Developing Cyber Warriors from Computer Engineers et al.

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Best of Computers in Education Division

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.427.1 - 25.427.13



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Paper Authors


Barry E. Mullins P.E. Air Force Institute of Technology

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Barry E. Mullins is an Associate Professor of computer engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB OH. He received a B.S. in computer engineering (cum laude) from the University of Evansville in 1983, an M.S. in computer engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1987, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1997. He served 21 years in the Air Force, teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven of those years. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Colorado and a member of Tau Beta Pi (engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (electrical and computer engineering), Phi Beta Chi (science), Kappa Mu Epsilon (mathematics), IEEE (Senior Member), and ASEE.

His research interests include cyber operations, malware analysis, computer/network security, computer communication networks, embedded (sensor) and wireless networking, reverse code engineering, and reconfigurable computing systems.

Mullins has won numerous teaching and research awards, including the 2010 IEEE Eta Kappa Nu C. Holmes MacDonald Outstanding Teaching Award, 2010 Air Force Science and Engineering Educator of the Year, AFIT Instructor of the Year (Dr. Leslie M. Norton Teaching Excellence Award), AFIT Instructor of the Quarter twice, AFIT Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Teaching Award for Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the AFIT Professor Ezra Kotcher Award Teaching Excellence Award for outstanding curriculum development. During his time at the Air Force Academy, he also received the U.S. Air Force Academy's Outstanding Academy Educator Award, as well as the Brig. Gen. R. E. Thomas award for outstanding contribution to cadet education twice.

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Developing Cyber Warriors from Computer Engineers et al.AbstractThis paper discusses the development of a successful cyber warfare curriculum for computer andelectrical engineering students at the ________________. We leverage two traits exhibited bymany engineers as we continually improve the curriculum. First, engineers are inherentlyinquisitive and notorious for disassembling things to better understand how they work. Second,the most effective pedagogical technique is to make the subject interesting and fun. This paperdescribes how we teach various computer-related topics by first teaching how things (e.g.,computer networks and computer architecture) work in prerequisite courses and then teachingthe students how to “break” them using cyber operations in our Cyber Attack course. We findstudents truly learn when challenged with defeating a computer protocol or architecture.This paper outlines our cyber warfare curriculum with emphasis on our Cyber Attack and CyberDefense course sequences. The paper focuses on methods used to teach the various phases ofcyber attack to computer and electrical engineers, computer scientists, cyber operators as well asother technical majors. The paper also addresses our participation in the US National SecurityAgency-sponsored Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX). The overarching goal of the curriculum is toprovide students with an understanding of how to attack and defend in the cyber domain usingthe CDX, as well as numerous course-oriented exercises, as proven effective teaching tools.Identifying and collecting metrics for determining success in any course can be difficult. We usethe results of national exercises (e.g., CDX), student feedback in the form of anonymous onlinecritiques and test scores as our metrics. Results show the students are learning the finer points ofcomputer systems as they hone their cyber warrior skills necessary to defend our informationsystems.

Mullins, B. E. (2012, June), Developing Cyber Warriors from Computer Engineers et al. Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21185

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