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Published: March 01, 2024

Two UT ROTC Students Receive Coveted Active-Duty Assignments in Cyber Defense

This May, two UT new graduates will become Army cyber officers, considered among the Army’s most competitive assignments.

Two UT ROTC Students Receive Coveted Active-Duty Assignments in Cyber DefenseHunter Mauldin, left, and AJ Rodriguez, right, are only the second and third UT students to be selected as Army cyber officers. Photo courtesy of AJ Rodriguez

Army ROTC Cadets AJ Rodriguez and Hunter Mauldin, both cybersecurity majors, are only the second and third UT students to ever be selected as Army cyber officers, said LTC. Geoff Shorr, Army ROTC professor of military science and military science and leadership chair.

To be considered for Army cyber command, students must apply at least a year and a half ahead of placement and pass a technical exam followed by a personal exam. You must pass the first exam to get to the other.

“The University of Tampa’s recent National Security Administration designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense goes a long way toward attracting and training the best talent,” Shorr said.  

“Hunter Mauldin and AJ Rodriguez are two shining examples of the talented Army cyber leaders our University produces.”

Mauldin said he initially wanted to pursue a management information systems (MIS) degree to give his resume an edge. But his heart was always in computers. He’s been studying cybersecurity since high school.

“I’m so happy I did it,” he said, “MIS is an awesome major. It just didn’t align with (my) goals.

“There’s so much you can do (in cybersecurity) — it’s not just sitting at a computer looking after networks,” he said. “It’s probably the coolest branch of the Army.”

It’s about longevity, Mauldin said, adding it’s where he believes he could provide the best work for the longest amount of time.

Rodriguez, too, thinks that cyber is where he can make the biggest impact.

“I was always technical as a kid,” he said. “It’s a mix of passion and fulfillment.”

Cyber defense is a niche part of the Army, Rodriguez said. “It’s one of the most desirable, but one of the smallest based on how many slots they have.” 

After commissioning into the Army as second lieutenants after graduation, Mauldin and Rodriguez will attend their first active-duty Army assignments at the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Army Cyber School at Fort Eisenhower, Georgia, Shorr said. There, they will receive formal training and development as cyber warfare professionals.

“We’ve been with each other since last summer,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been nice to have a buddy with the same interest.”

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