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Marshall representatives to this year’s Black Hat conference included five students and one staff member. From left are Bob Dorado of Marshall’s ID office and students Jacob Vaughan, Caleb Karr, Kevin Hoang, Mariah Dixon and Brittany Belcher. Courtesy of Marshall

HUNTINGTON — Marshall University was among four universities recognized in August for longtime participation in the Black Hat Conference Associate program.

Black Hat is among the top cybersecurity conferences in the country, attended by more than 15,000 people annually. This year's event was Aug. 7-8 at Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, and students in Marshall's digital forensics and information assurance program were selected to work at the conference and attend for free.

For 10 years, Black Hat has partnered with college-level cybersecurity programs to nominate students to participate in the Conference Associate (CA) program.

These students assist in all aspects of the daily operation of the conference. While off-shift, the students are able to visit the Business Hall or attend any of the conference's technical briefings or demonstrations. Students can also participate in interview sessions with businesses during the conference, which has led to career opportunities for Marshall students.

This year, five of Marshall's Digital Forensics students and one staff member participated, including students Jacob Vaughan, Caleb Karr, Kevin Hoang, Mariah Dixon and Brittany Belcher, as well as Bob Dorado of Marshall's ID office in Information Technology.

"It's one of the best experiences that anyone at any age in this field can participate in," Belcher said. "Interacting and engaging with others in the cyber community opens many doors and broadens the horizon so that no matter your gender, race, ethnicity, there's a job for you in this ever-growing field."

"This is a great opportunity for students to network," said Bill Gardner, assistant professor of digital forensics and information assurance at Marshall. "This experience gives our students an edge in finding careers in digital forensics and cybersecurity upon graduation because of the many industry contacts they make."

Students who want to participate in the program may contact Bill Gardner at bill.gardner@marshall.edu.

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