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Northern Ireland embraces Cyber drive as cadets praise course

As RAFAC continues to embed Cyber as one of its core strengths and capabilities, those in Northern Ireland (NI) have told of their efforts to get more cadets involved. 

Sqn Ldr Aaron Coulter is the NI Wing Lead on Cyber and he said that there are several exciting developments currently being put into place.

“Courses are being arranged in the near future where all aspects of programming will be taught,” said Sqn Leader Coulter, who is Officer Commanding 664 Astra Ground School (AGS) Aldergrove.

“This will involve things such as object orientated programming, creating and correct use of functions, scope and efficient use of code.

“Python programming has also been taught at the AGS where the students were tasked with simple coding tasks which lead to more complex programming challenges and teamwork.”

That plan outline comes soon after Scotland and Northern Ireland Regional Commandant, Gp Cpt Sohail Khan, attended a RAF Digital event that was run on the fringes of the CyberUK 23 conference in Belfast.

Gp Capt Khan engaged with the Cyber industry in Belfast to gain support for the Air Cadets.

Gp Capt Khan was supported at the event by Officer Commanding NI Wing, Wing Commander Chris Hodges, Sqn Ldr Coulter and OC 1137 (City of Belfast) Squadron, Flying Officer Duncan Baxter.

They wanted to encourage industry and academia to support their staff to become volunteers to both gain new skills that can be taken back into industry but also to support the next generation.

This drive is also being felt at ground level. Cdt Sgt Mark Baxter of 1919 (Newtownabbey) Sqn was one of many cadets who said they wanted to undertake the Gold Cyber course to boost employability.

“I strongly believe that the information and skills provided by this unique course will greatly advance my knowledge of cyber security,” said Cdt Sgt Baxter.

“It will assist me in my hopes and dreams to help others navigate the ever-evolving cyberspace, share my knowledge and ultimately gain employment in this field

“I am also in a fortunate position to be able to feed knowledge back into my Squadron as a Sergeant in delivering the Cyber training syllabus and offer support for our Squadron IT systems.

“I intend to apply for a degree apprenticeship or bursary and attend University to study Cyber Security.”

664 AGS/NI Wing will also soon take delivery of several ESP32 chips and a wide range of control devices which will equip them to complete a wide range of micro-projects, participate in Internet of Things (IoT) development and use cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), driving forward a vision of Astra within the Wing.

Gp Capt Khan had earlier said how Scotland and Northern Ireland Region was seeking volunteers to lead and support the range of activities offered to Air Cadets there.

"If we can encourage people from digital and cyber industry backgrounds, we can harness their skills to better deliver the offer to our Air Cadets," said Gp Capt Khan at the RAF Digital event in Belfast.

"Northern Ireland Wing of the RAF Air Cadets has numerous units across Northern Ireland, and with ambitions to grow in the coming years, we’ll need more volunteers from all walks of life to support that ambition."

Are you interested in joining us as a volunteer? Please see more information and how to get in touch with a unit near you in this dedicated volunteer section on our website.

Do you have a story you would like to feature in this News section? If so, please contact the RAFAC Influence Team at [email protected]