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UWF earns national award for cybersecurity outreach initiatives

The University of West Florida placed second in the 2023 CAE-CD Community Outreach Award Competition, which is given by the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Community to a CAE-Cyber Defense designated institution. The award was announced at the 2024 CAE in Cybersecurity Symposium held in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 16-17.


“Cybersecurity is important for people of all ages and organizations of all sizes,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, associate vice president for the Center for Cybersecurity. “The UWF Center for Cybersecurity is enhancing cybersecurity awareness, interest, and education across our region and nation, through activities like K-12 summer camps, free training for veterans, government personnel, and other groups, and community events. This award recognizes the University’s commitment to supporting our learners and community.”

The UWF Center for Cybersecurity received the second place award for its outstanding community outreach activities that promote cybersecurity awareness, education and research including:

  • UWF Cyber Ambassadors program: The ambassadors visited K-12 schools in Northwest Florida to share their cybersecurity expertise and increase students’ cybersecurity awareness through engaging activities and demos.
  • UWF Night of Cyber: The UWF Center for Cybersecurity promoted cybersecurity awareness, careers, educational programs, and resources to students and the community. Night of Cyber explores various cyber career opportunities for high school and college undergraduate students and adult learners. Students hear from industry professionals and academic instructors about the opportunities and paths to achieve their dreams.
  • GenCyber Pathways to Cyber summer camps: The UWF Center for Cybersecurity hosted two GenCyber camps for rising seventh-10th-graders. The students received an introduction to the various aspects of cybersecurity work focused on the six GenCyber Concepts: confidentiality, integrity, availability, defense in depth, keep it simple and think like the adversary.
  • Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) Florida Affiliate: The Center established WiCyS Florida and several faculty and staff members are active leaders in the group. The Affiliate provides networking, educational opportunities, and resources to help women launch or advance careers in cybersecurity.
  • CyberPatriot Competition: UWF hosted two high school teams for the CyberPatriot Competition. Students practice their Cyber skills and team building. The teams were made up of both genders and a mix of ethnic groups.
  • Cybersecurity Awareness Month and Cybersecurity Careers Awareness Week Champion: Activities included sharing best practices, information on cyber careers, promoting cybersecurity awareness and career events and encouraging good cyber hygiene.
  • Throughout the year, UWF and Center personnel participated in numerous community events, conferences, and media interviews to share their expertise and enhance cybersecurity awareness and education.

The CAE-CD Community Outreach Award was established to showcase CAE-designated institutions that are going above and beyond and recognize their outstanding community outreach initiatives. Institutions’ outreach activities are evaluated for their impact, diversity and effort. Award winners are determined by a committee of peers representing the CAE-Cyber Defense Community of Practice from across the country. More than 450 universities and colleges designated as CAE-C institutions across the U.S. were eligible for the award.

The award winners are determined by a committee of peers representing the CAE-CD Community of Practice from across the country. This is the second consecutive year UWF has received this award, placing first in 2023. UWF was designated as a National Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity in 2016 and redesignated in 2022.

For more information on the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, visit uwf.edu/cybersecurity.