Dyess hones computer skills, strengthens community partnership with Hackathon

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sophia Robello
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Dyess hosted its first Hackathon on October 25, testing Airmen’s skills at creating networks and exploiting vulnerabilities in a controlled environment.

The event teaches Airmen from various trades new skills in computer science that may not have been available to them in their career field, while providing students from Hardin-Simmons University real-world experience in network creation and exploitation.

“The goal is ultimately for educational purposes,” said Wade Ashby, Hardin-Simmons University professor of computer science. “We began about a month ago having an event on our campus where we set up and secured a network, and then today we’re doing the penetration testing of those networks where we see how to gain access and exploit what’s there.”

Members from various squadrons across Dyess collaborated with instructors at HSU to put on the event. Coordination involved acquiring necessary equipment, securing a venue and building servers for the participants to work on during the event.

“We reached out to a few local schools to coordinate this, and Hardin-Simmons was really excited to participate,” said Tech. Sgt. Ridge Rozier, 317th Airlift Wing wing executive. “Throughout the coordination process, we had to work out the logistics of what equipment to use for the event and whether we could even use older government equipment from the military side. The school actually reached out to outside sources and had equipment donated for the event, which helped us out a lot.”

The Hackathon is the first of its kind at Dyess, collaborating with HSU and strengthening the relationships with the local community. Along with educating participants on the knowledge needed to build and exploit network servers, the event brought people with an interest in computer science and hacking together to share ideas and collaborate as a team.

“We love partnerships and connecting Hardin-Simmons with the rest of the Abilene community,” said Ashby. “When Dyess reached out and asked if we would help put on the Hackathon, it felt like a no-brainer for us to work together and help Dyess and the local community out as a whole. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it and I’m hoping it was beneficial for everyone involved.”