Submitted by Pepco
As technology continues to advance, companies are facing increasing cyber threats and are looking for more cybersecurity and information technology (IT) experts to help defend their systems and operations. That’s why Exelon, Pepco and Public Sector Solutions Group (PS2G) are working together to train individuals from the District of Columbia and Maryland in these fields. The Walter Reed Infrastructure Academy hosts the 12-week program and gives individuals of all ages, from all backgrounds, and at any point in their professional journey hands-on training to prepare them for careers in the energy, cybersecurity, and IT industries.
Two program participants, Dwight Washington and Ardell Boatwright recently completed the classroom training and explain how the program has given their career path a fresh start.
Dwight Washington, Temple Hills, Md.
After hackers stole his personal information and created a false identity, Dwight felt a strong pull to the IT and cybersecurity field.
“I discovered my email was on the dark web.” Dwight shared. “I learned about the dark web and how these attackers are able to use brute force attacks and different tactics of that nature to obtain personal information from you.”
The hackers used Dwight’s personal information to create a fake account with the unemployment office to steal government funding in his name. Most would shy away from the internet after going through such an experience, but not Dwight. He took it personally and decided it was time to fight back and help prevent this from happening to someone else.
“That experience really motivated me to learn more about cybersecurity and how I can help defend others through a career in this field.” Dwight said.
Dwight credits the program for helping him understand the tools that bad actors use to steal information, including those used against him. His goal is to help prevent the next victim of a cyber-crime and help defend systems from attack using what he has learned from the Walter Reed Infrastructure Academy.
“I’ve always played defense, even since my days in high school football,” Dwight added. “Being able to defend and protect the grid is very important. Without our power we almost can’t do anything, it could cripple the entire nation and set us back. I would like to be on the defense to protect that system.”
Ardell Boatwright, Washington, D.C.
For Ardell Boatwright, IT has always been a passion and a field he wanted to get back into after a long absence. He learned of the program Exelon, Pepco and PS2G were offering and quickly jumped at the opportunity.
“I was looking to get back into IT,” said Ardell. “It’s really hard when you have been out of the field for a while – everyone is wondering why you have this break in employment or what else you were doing. Being in this program gave me a foot back onto solid land with this industry.”
Ardell was briefly discouraged when he learned a particular class would not be offered until later in the program. A Walter Reed Infrastructure Academy instructor noticed his concern and tailored the class to the knowledge he desired.
“I was relieved to know they actually care. They cared that I was going to leave and put their foot forward to help. I appreciated that and they have been the same way throughout.”
Ardell now has single goal: to be the next defenders of cybersecurity and IT. “I really want to be the person to help the team stop the next malicious act and teach others how to see it coming,” he said.
As for next steps, Dwight and Ardell were both selected to participate in a paid apprenticeship program with Exelon and will spend the next six months continuing their training and gaining on-the-job IT experience in the energy industry.
Neither individual plans to stop or let anything hinder their progress. They know the fields of cybersecurity and IT are growing and will need defenders to protect what everyone takes for granted each day, including the local energy grid. They encourage anyone interested in the field to consider the program. To learn more, visit PS2G.us
Pepco is a unit of Exelon (Nasdaq: EXC), a Fortune 250 company and the nation’s largest utility company, serving more than 10 million customers. Pepco provides safe and reliable energy service to approximately 919,000 customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland.
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