Maj. Megan Manly ’11, ’14 M.S. visited Florida Tech’s campus in September to speak with students on the FITSEC cybersecurity team and attend the Cyber Heroines Capture the Flag Competition.
Manly is a second-generation Panther, as her parents attended Florida Tech for their undergraduate studies. She said their positive experiences, along with her interest in aerospace engineering, led her to attend.
“I was very interested in aerospace engineering, how close [Florida Tech] is to the Space Coast and working with organizations like NASA and being able to contribute to the government,” she said.
Manly is also a third generation military officer, with her grandfather having served in World War II and her parents having served in the U.S. Air Force. She received a full scholarship from the U.S. Army to attend Florida Tech, where she joined the ROTC program and graduated in 2011 as a military intelligence officer.
“The ROTC program here was amazing,” she said. “One of the things I really enjoyed about Florida Tech was it is traditionally smaller classrooms—more the ratio of instructor to student. It’s more personable so you can get a more focused education.”
She came back to get a masters in information technology, with a specialization in cybersecurity, and has since had a successful career defending against cyber threat actors.
“After getting my IT and cybersecurity degree, it helped me switch into the cyber branch in 2017,” Manly said. “A lot of the education, and even the programming language I learned back in the day for aerospace engineering, helped me have some of the fundamentals for the current job I’m in.”
As part of her visit, Manly attended the in-person portion of the Cyber Heroines Capture the Flag Competition Sept. 10.
The competition was a collaborative effort by Florida Tech’s Women in CyberSecurity chapter, FITSEC, the L3Harris Institute for Assured Information, Research Innovations Inc., Esports and Tristan Fiedler, the university’s federal government programs manager.
The event honored and highlighted women’s unique accomplishments in cybersecurity and had 670 registered users, with almost 393 users actively participating for the event’s duration. All of the challenges were cracked, and the top scorer was “robotmafiactf” with 5,500 points.
While the event kicked off virtually Sept. 8, participants had the opportunity to work in-person with mentors Sept. 10 in the Esports Center. Manly attended to speak with competitors, motivate them and express the importance of cybersecurity.
“Maj. Megan Manly motivated us with her hunting experience,” said FITSEC co-advisor and assistant professor Sneha Sudhakaran, who helped run the event. “The discussion motivated high school and university students to pursue careers in this area.”