The Cyber Operations field has experienced tremendous growth. We rely heavily on the web, telecommunications, and information technology infrastructures to open doors to various positions in the private sector and the government. The field of Cyber Operations is a significant component of our nation’s defense infrastructure within the Navy and Marine Corps.
Emphasizing the importance of Cyber Operations, Hopper Hall, the newest building on the Naval Academy Yard, was opened to Midshipmen in September 2020. Hopper Hall hosts Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Robotics, Control Engineering, and laboratories for Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering classes. The hall is named after Rear Adm. Grace Hopper. Hopper was an accomplished mathematician who left an enormous lasting legacy in her development of numerous computer programming languages. Hopper Hall is also the first building of any of the major service academies to be named after a woman.
The United States Naval Academy offers a Cyber Operations program through the Center for Cyber Security Studies. This program equips Midshipmen with the knowledge to conduct offensive and defensive cyber operations. The program was awarded the National Security Agency designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations in 2020, the only program to receive the reward in 2020.
The Cyber Operations program has focused on providing Midshipmen with well-rounded technical knowledge, enabling them to work in cyber operations for the Navy. Midshipmen leave the program prepared to enter cyber security, cyber warfare, and cyber operations positions.
Cyber Operations Major
As stated on the official USNA Academics page, the USNA Cyber Operations program provides students with “foundational knowledge in computer architecture, programming, data structures, networks, internet, database systems, information assurance, cryptography, and computer forensics.” Midshipmen can also increase their skills and capabilities by taking courses focusing on other relevant areas of study, including law, ethics, and more that can be applied to careers in the Cyber Operations field.
Midshipmen enter the Cyber Operations program their first year at the Academy and immediately begin engaging in studies and simulations of cyber operations. By their third year, Midshipmen will be engaging in hands-on cyber operations activities.
The program offers ample opportunity to participate in both independent study and internships with relevant organizations such as the NSA, DIA, and Naval Research Labs. Programs partnered with U.S. Cyber Command, Fleet Cyber Command, Marine Forces Cyber Command, and the Naval Cyber Warfare Development Command are available at Fort Meade. These programs equip Midshipmen with hands-on cyber warfare experience and allow them to work alongside professionals in the field. Midshipmen may also have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs, allowing them to learn about international cyber operations.
Cyber Operations Midshipmen are eligible to work on the Service Academy Cyber Defense Exercise, an annual program hosted by the NSA. The Midshipmen in the USNA Cyber Operations program won the exercise in 2015, 2017, and 2018, earning trips to the White House to recognize their excellence in cyber operations.
Midshipmen graduate with a Bachelor of Science, ready to begin careers as commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps. Midshipmen in the Cyber Operations program are eligible to enter the Information Professional and Information Warfare career paths. Midshipmen are equipped with problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to communicate effectively and apply technological and mathematical concepts to find real-world solutions as Cyber-Operations Officers.