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FLYING ABOVE THE

GLASS CEILING

BY JOSH NEWBY The Blue Angels’ new pilot is taking the beloved Fat Albert transporter to exciting heights—and she’s not afraid to be the only woman to ever do so. Capt. Katie Higgins, the newest pilot of the Blue Angels—and the first who happens to be a woman—has been taking to the skies as part of the team for over six months now. She has experience flying in both combat and demonstration situations and is beyond proud and humbled to represent the Marine Corps in this way. She has won Air Medals, numerous unit and personal awards, and has accumulated more than 1,000 flight hours. Her journey to pilot the Hercules C-130 transport affectionately referred to as Fat Albert is proof that anyone—man or woman—can live their dreams with the right amount of talent and hard work. Business Climate spoke to her about her life as a Marine and as the first female pilot to represent the jet-fueled pride of Pensacola. Tell me about your background. I was born in Jacksonville, Fla. and I moved around my whole life. My father was in the Navy up until I was in college, so I was a military brat. I even lived overseas in Japan for a couple years. I attended the United States Naval Academy and graduated in 2008, and then I went on to get my master’s degree at Georgetown University in 2009. I then reported to the basic school, which is a course that all Marine Corps officers have to go through. I finished that in November of 2009 and moved down to Pensacola to start my flight school training. I was in Pensacola and Corpus Christi for the majority of my training and I got my wings of gold in October 2011. And then I reported to NCAS Cherry Point North Carolina, which is the home of the Second Marine Aircraft Wing where I learned to fly the KC-130J Hercules 50 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com 50 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com

and I reported to BMJR 252, which is the C-130 squadron on the east coast. I trained there and I deployed twice, once to Afghanistan for seven months from January to August of 2013 and then I turned around and did another deployment that started in Spain but ended up in the Uganda from December 2013 to May 2014. Then I came back stateside and put in my application to the Blue Angels and got accepted in July 2014. I reported in early September of 2014. What’s the application process like to be a part of the Blue Angels? There’s definitely a very long, stringent process. In addition to the paper application that you have to do—which includes a picture, essay, letters of recommendation—you also have to attend two of the shows where you go

to the briefs and social events that they have. You have to go to at least two shows that are all Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then if you’re selected as a finalist, they fly you down for the Pensacola Beach show for a week. During that week, you get measured for your flight suit in the event that you’re selected, you take your official picture in the event that you’re selected, and then you also have a formal interview. That’s one of the most intimidating things that you have to do, because you’re in the Blue Angels Ready Room that has all their awards and everything. There’s this big long table with 16 officers and you’re sitting at the end of the table. They’re all asking you very, very difficult questions, as they should be. We’re on the road 300 days out of the year with each other. They’re trying to find the right person for the right job for the right team. So it definitely is very intimidating. And then at the end of that week, you fly back to your fleet job and then you call in to the boss at a certain time and he tells you if you made the team or you didn’t. It’s definitely nerve-wracking. Did you always want to fly with the Blue Angels? I was exposed to the Blue Angels at a young age. I was in California off and on for nine years and the Blue Angels came and performed there a couple times for the Wings of Gold air show. So I was exposed to the Blue Angels and I knew what they were and I appreciated their


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dedication, professionalism, precision and flying. As a Marine and as a C-130 person I thought it was pretty much a long shot to make the team. The guy who was the most influential in me actually applying was Maj. Dusty Cook who is currently on the team and is the head C-130 pilot. He was the one who influenced and encouraged me to apply. He thought that I would make a good fit for the team and it turns out that they selected me, so that long shot wasn’t as long as I thought it was. It’s definitely a great opportunity. Do you find that flying Fat Albert is a different experience than some of the other planes you’ve piloted? I’ve flown different planes before including single- and dual-prop aircraft very similar to something you’d see in the civilian sector. And then there’s this C-130 that’s equivalent in size to a 737 and has four prop engines on it. It’s obviously a little less maneuverable than some of the other planes, but it’s so versatile. What I absolutely love about the C-130 is we can do aerial refueling, aerial delivery, we can land in austere environments like coral, sand or dirt. We can drop battlefield illumination that is basically a really giant flare that comes out and lights up the battlefield for those guys on the ground. In Afghanistan I actually did close air support because we had a modification to the C-130 that fires Hellfire Griffin missiles. It’s really awesome that it’s so versatile and I get to do all these missions in this one aircraft. You’ve been officially on the team for seven months. How is the dynamic of the team? It’s definitely great. These guys are so supportive of me; it’s like I have 16 brothers and sisters in the officer corps and then additionally we have 130 total with our maintainers downstairs. They’re focused on their job, their work ethic is indescribable, and I think that’s shown in their demonstration. If you have watched that jet demonstration, 52| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| |nwflbusinessclimate.com nwflbusinessclimate.com 52

Photo by Staff Sgt. Oscar Olive, IV


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it’s phenomenal what they can do with that aircraft. Without the maintainers and supply guys, that wouldn’t be possible. So everyone works together to put on this beautiful show for the American people. It’s amazing to be just a small part of that team. How do you feel being the first female pilot on the team? Well we have 20 women on the team. I’m not the first female Blue Angel by any means. I am the first female pilot to perform in a demonstration and it is a really great honor to be a representative of these strong, fully capable professional women on the team—and not only them, but also the women in the Marine Corps in general. We have women stationed all over the world right now protecting our freedom. In the marine aviation side of things, we’ve had women be pilots since 1993. The female population in the Marine Corps represents about 6 percent. So we’ve been doing this for over 20 years now in the Marine Corps aviation sector. It just so happens that I can represent those women who are actually fighting the good fight and keeping watch right now overseas and there’s no greater honor than that.

What advice do you have for women who are wanting to break into this traditionally male-dominated field? The Marine Corps has been so supportive of me my entire career. I’ve not faced much adversity. I’ve been supported by my male counterparts the entire way. I would encourage women and men that you need to go out and do it. Women can do whatever they put their minds to. And men can respect the same thing. My message to both men and women is that women can do whatever they put their minds to. What does the future hold for you? I’d prefer to go back to my fleet squadron I was in. And if I can’t get there, I’d like to get back to a C-130 squadron either on the west coast or overseas. I definitely want to go back and fly the C-130 and deploy again. I joined the military to help those guys on the ground and I’d love to get back and do what I’ve trained to do.

I want to just say that the Blue Angels are a team and we can’t function without every single member of this team. I may be getting some attention right now. It’s not about me, though. It’s about the other females on this team. It’s about the other 130 members total on the team. It’s about the Marine Corps in general that’s overseas, representing the military might and fighting for our freedom and doing humanitarian work. Beyond the Marines, there’s the Navy, and beyond the Navy, there’s all the military forces over there. I don’t want the real story, which is the military deployed overseas, to be lost in my story. They’re the real focus. They’re the real heroes.

How do you feel about the media attention you’ve received? It definitely is surreal. I really love the opportunity to talk about the women and the men who are deployed overseas—the ones in Japan and the Middle East and in Spain. It’s nice to be able to tell their story, and that’s essentially why the Blue Angels exist. It’s definitely cool. nwflbusinessclimate.com nwflbusinessclimate.com| |Business BusinessClimate Climate| |53 53


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PROTECTING THE

INTERNET WITH CYBERSECURITY BY JOSH NEWBY Competitive new programs at the University of West Florida and Pensacola State College, coupled with emerging local businesses with national attention are creating an IT hub in Pensacola that promises a talented workforce and high wages.

The Internet has become so much more than anyone expected. It is hard to believe that in the mid-90s, industry experts were expecting the World Wide Web to be mainly a professional and governmental tool, and that pedestrian use would be little more than a fad. Today, of course, it is ubiquitous, as important to our off time as it is to our work lives. The Internet has become nearly as important as electricity, a utility we take for granted. Access to servers, people and information across the world is not something to take

lightly, though, and as more and more people sign on, there is a greater risk of widespread computer infection and theft. Luckily, national and local organizations are training a new breed of cyber soldier, a career path that simply did not exist a few decades ago. These cyberprotectors see the Internet not as a collection of news and cat videos, but as an assortment of attackers and defenders. In cybersecurity, the attacker needs to only know one vulnerability, but the defender needs to secure all entry

points. And while the attacker has unlimited time, the defender is often working with time and cost constraints. Add to that the fact that overly or improperly secured systems can be more difficult to use and that users—and attackers—prefer simple passwords and you can see how the work of a cybersecurity professional is like solving a very important puzzle, one that has far-reaching ramifications. A cyber attack is launched from both international and national criminals every second, and

most of these attacks are thwarted by defense mechanisms that are in place and professionals who monitor and respond to the world’s cyber traffic. These cybersecurity practitioners are highly sought-after. Often with just a two-year degree, these individuals can start out at $70,000 annually and make upwards of $150,000 by the end of their career. Subsequent bachelors and masters degrees promise even more opportunities and compensation. The University of West Florida’s (UWF) recently launched Center for

Cybersecurity serves as a local hub of research, partnership and educational opportunity. The center even features a state-of-the-art Battle Lab, where students get handson experience in attack simulations, and is even a member of the renowned National Cyber Watch Center. Susan Cerovsky was recently hired on as the director of the program. “Cybersecurity is an umbrella, under which are various other fields, such as computer science and information technology,” said Cerovsky. “We are routinely adding

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“The only way to not be at risk is to not be connected. In today’s world, you’re not going to not be connected.” specializations to keep pace with the everchanging industry. We focus on threats, vulnerabilities, protection, defense, operation, maintenance and more.” Relatively speaking, the Internet is still a new frontier, one that has become a necessity yet presents considerable risk. “The only way to not be at risk is to not be connected,” said Cerovsky. “In today’s world, you’re not going to not be connected.” An attack on the Internet or a company’s intranet can mean disaster for the power grid, water supplies and financial operations. There are also social ramifications, such as cyber bullying and cybercrime. While many attacks occur because of a shortcoming in physical security, which grants criminals actual, tangible access to resting data and servers, much of these attacks originate thousands of miles away over the Internet. Locally, highwage businesses are snatching up UWF and Pensacola State College (PSC) graduates and even implementing

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software that the students create in classes. Companies like AppRiver and GBSI are well known for their cybersecurity services, and much of their workforce is comprised of young individuals working in the field. The local Navy and other government facilities also prize these cybersecurity individuals and pay handsomely for their talents. According to Dan Busse, dean of workforce education and vocational support for PSC, cybersecurity is a popular field for career-changers, 20-somethings who are desiring higher wages and more opportunities in exchange for relatively little schooling. “We see a lot of philosophy majors and liberal arts majors who went to a big university but find that their skills are not as marketable as they hoped,” said Busse. “That’s when they come here.” Cybersecurity professionals can work as part of a dedicated company or firm with dozens or even hundreds of other computer

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safety professionals, or they can work on a team of one or two as experts for an organization that specializes in something else. But how does it all work? According to Robert Pratton, an instructor in PSC’s Applied Technology department, it is nothing like the movies. “It’s a fastpaced, challenging environment, and a lot of it does involve stopping hackers, but it’s so much more than that,” said Pratton. “Before you even get started building up a company’s defense, you have to audit the computer systems, and do a quantitative and qualitative analysis.” Pratton went on to explain that there are many unexpected

effects of a cyber attack. Companies’ stock prices have plunged in the wake of identity theft, a type of cyber attack. Hundreds of hours in labor have been wasted and people’s money has been stolen as a result of a hacker or virus. In fact, it is estimated that cybercrime is the top risk to 42 percent of the world’s businesses. “You have to know how to prioritize your vulnerabilities and budget likewise,” said Pratton. “Your company, your customers and their money are at stake.” To prepare for these real-world scenarios, Pratton puts his students through actual attacks and makes them investigate compromised data

in order to find the culprit for later prosecution. “I also teach them to hack,” said Pratton. “You have to know what you’re fighting, so we take them from the street to the machine and make them do in class what they’ll be doing in the workplace.” Students work with software meant to detect vulnerabilities and attacks, and then work to stop those attacks so they do not replicate. They also use account access controls to confine the data to only those authorized to see it, firewalls to block attacks through packet filtering, and intrusion detection systems to detect and log attacks for forensic purposes later. Making the job of cybersecurity


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professionals harder is the use of proxies, or fake Internet Provider addresses that bounce the attack across multiple networks and countries. Luckily most attacks—even homebound attacks— are often stopped with virus protection software and computer firewall precautions. Data in transit, such as confidential emails, is also a concern. Often these messages will be encrypted while traveling through servers to be decrypted only when reaching the destination. Oftentimes, a hacker can gain control of computer processors and other important parts of a system

by finding a flaw or vulnerability in the coding. The hacker will insert a piece of benign coding that the computer allows, but it secretly contains executions that then cripple the software or grant access to the hacker. Criminals are working as hard or harder than those protecting against them. The key is to be proactive with defense systems rather than reactive. Nevertheless, attacks do happen, often multiple times a day against even a home-based user, and it is best to delete emails sorted as spam and have strong passwords. These simple tools, designed

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by cybersecurity professionals, are still among the most efficient weapons at foiling an attack. The field is growing as fast as the Internet itself, and up-todate certifications are necessary to stay abreast of the changes. Many organizations will pay for their employees to recertify in order to keep their networks secure. If you can hack it, the cybersecurity field is a high-wage, high-demand, exciting though challenging industry that currently sees limitless growth potential.

A live map of all current cyberattacks, available at map.ipviking.com

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Years of scientific research and conclusive evidence of mankind’s effects on our planet has clashed with a stubborn unwillingness to change, the harsh truths of regulating industry, and a flat-out rejection of inconvenient, complex science, leading to...

the heated debate over climate change By Josh Newby

To help understand the science and dispel the rumors of climate change, Business Climate spoke with renowned glaciologist and retired NASA scientist Dr. Robert Bindschadler. He has led numerous expeditions to Antarctica and Greenland to study glacier dynamics and ice sheets. He has also received numerous awards and routinely speaks in front of Congress to educate both our leaders and the public about the science behind our atmosphere’s recent changes. Tell me about your background. I’m a glaciologist primarily. I study ice on this planet, although many glaciologists study ice on other planets. I had done that for 30-plus years with NASA, doing satellite research and field work primarily in Antarctica. I tied those two data sets together—what we see from space and what we see on the ground. That’s always been satisfying to me, but because of so many changes happening in the polar region, I was drawn into this larger issue of climate change and discussing with the public what we know. I spent my 30-plus years with NASA and then retired and did part-time work with universities while my wife did her last few years with the government. Then we both retired and moved from Maryland. We now live in the Pacific Northwest because that’s where I did my graduate work and research. College education and outreach is essential, because science isn’t really done until the information is really out there for people to be aware of. Scientists aren’t interested in that,

though, because that’s not what gets you promoted. Promotion comes from getting published and grants and so on. Ultimately, our research is supported by public funds, so we need to parlay our knowledge to the public. Too often scientists talk about what we don’t know, because that’s scientist-to-scientist. When we talk to the public, though, it’s a different set of talking points that we need. We need to talk about what we know so they can make informed decisions. It really is too often scientists bleeding over into advocacy of certain approaches. But that’s not really where we belong; we belong on the educational side, informing the public of what we know so they can make informed decisions. Tell me about climate change. Well it’s really quite straightforward. Human use of fossil fuels is changing the climate by emitting more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That story, those facts, surround certain steps that have led us where we are. The first step is that humans are producing carbon dioxide faster than natural systems can absorb. Natural systems produce a lot more carbon dioxide than humans do, but those natural systems—plants and so on—absorb their own, plus some of the human’s. But natural systems haven’t been able to keep up, so there’s an excess. nwflbusinessclimate.com||Business BusinessClimate Climate||59 59 nwflbusinessclimate.com nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 59


We have good numbers and can demonstrate that. We can measure this increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s really irrefutable. The second step is the physics of what happens when you do that. It’s called a greenhouse gas because it makes the atmosphere work like a greenhouse. The solar radiation comes through the atmosphere but then it heats up the ground and remits the energy at a different wavelength, which is absorbed by carbon dioxide. So it’s easy in, but can’t get out. It traps that heat. If you put more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it warms the atmosphere unless you can break physical laws. The final step is what happens when you heat up the atmosphere. You add energy to the weather system. Climate is just the accumulation or statistical averages of a lot of weather. What makes weather is the movement of heat in the atmosphere and ocean. If you add more heat, it’s like giving a kid lots of candy on Halloween: you have more extreme behavior. That’s how the weather responds to a warmer atmosphere. The average global temperate has warmed by a degree in the last 50 years or so, but so what? If it’s 80 degrees or 81, you’re not going to change your clothes or lifestyle. But it’s more about the manifestations on weather and the rubber meets the road with more extreme weather events. That’s where it impacts people’s lives. The extreme weather events are costly, whether it’s flooding or hurricanes. We will have more of those, as has been predicted. But sometimes people don’t get that. If you can’t connect people’s commonplace experiences with scientific results, it really doesn’t stick. It’s intangible. I try to focus on where I think my audience is, what they’re familiar with, and try to tie the science to those experiences, like candy on Halloween. This issue is so important that it needs to be communicated effectively and broadly. You don’t get a lot of pushback if you go to Alaska and say, “Things are getting warmer.” They know it, they see it everyday. But in any community, there’s going to be people resistant to it. I want to see where they’re coming from and adapt the explanation to something that connects with where they’re at. It takes effort to do that. If you don’t communicate effectively, what’s the point? Pensacola will see these changes in increased severity of storms. In Norfolk, Va., Nor’easters will cause as much damage as Category 1 or 2 hurricanes. That’s because of the ocean, which continues to rise. The ocean is the launching pad and it continues to rise. It’s all connected. What is going on in the polar regions matters to the rest of the planet. We do expect a meter rise in sea level by the end of the century.

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Unless we start mitigating climate change, we’re going to leave a less secure, less resilient, less attractive world for our offspring.”

Let’s talk about the non-weather effects of climate change. Within the community, it’s important to have those conversations. The first community that came to us was the Navy. They were concerned about their shore facilities. I mean, all the boats are going to float, so that’s not a problem, but it’s the land-based facilities that are problematic. They wanted to know how fast the sea was going to rise at different port facilities. Whether it’s San Diego or Pensacola, if they’re going to build a facility that has a lifespan of 50 years, they don’t want it to be inoperable after 25 years because it’s no longer dry. Another community is the insurance industry. They want to get out in front of this, because policies they sell are reliant on quantifiable risks. This is clearly something that is changing the risk structure. A third community is the intelligence community, because they saw an additional stress on geopolitical stability. They recognize that water shortage and mobility are big deals. Wars have been fought for eons over water availability. So they wanted to get the most expert advice on how that was going to evolve over time so they could incorporate that into their analyses of stability in various regions of the world. US foreign and security polices could probably anticipate that. I think of business the same way. They want to be out in front of changes so they can plan into them. Many businesses have very long timelines for investment, and the worst thing would be to invest in some facility that then becomes less able to serve its function because of climate change. The smart businesses are ones that are learning about climate change from the experts and incorporating that into their long-term

planning. Climate scientists are never going to sell reacting and responding to climate change through guilt or doom and gloom. Sustainability is a good thing for just about everybody. Resilience, which is being able to adapt to changes, is important, too. If you’re not resilient, it becomes more costly. So that’s why we need to communicate it; we need to sell climate change in those terms. There’s more to profit from being proactive than waiting on it to happen. How do you feel that the whole issue has been framed through a political lens? It’s unfortunate that it’s been so heavily politicized. That’s not a good thing. That’s one reason scientists need to be very careful about not advocating. It’s very easy for us to give our own individual view about what we think should be done. Once you start talking about what you would do or about what others are doing, then it is very easy for you to start politicizing it. I’m worried about the politicization. It’s so intense in the US. In Europe, they’re a little further down the road as far as planning the changes and planning into them. I am worried that we will get in our own way inside the DC Beltway and have to play catch-up. I wouldn’t want to see this country do that. One reason I speak as often as I do is to get the US to get it so we can move ahead with meaningful solutions. It’s important to have that discussion about how we move forward and how we live and develop into the new normal so we can maintain our leadership. Once the US gets it, we have such resources at hand that we can recover that leadership role if we so choose. I think it really is up to the public. I’m a firm


believer in the democratic process. I have spoken many times to leaders on both sides of the political spectrum and what they all say is that they acknowledge the scientific fact and give credibility to it, but they’re not doing anything until they hear it from their constituents. It really does come back to grassroots. People have a choice if they choose to exercise it. The global solution to reacting and responding correctly to climate change is not from the top down; it’s from the bottom up. It does matter to the politicians what they hear from their constituents. That’s why I’m working more and more to be a local source of scientific information, rather than giving testimony on the Hill which is like banging your head against the wall. Do you think there’s already been too much irreversible damage done? We’re on this trajectory of warming. Even if we didn’t produce another molecule of carbon dioxide, there’s enough in the atmosphere to create another ¾ of a degree warming, which is about what we’ve seen in the last 50 or 75 years. Natural systems are trying to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, but we’re not. Projections for increased use of fossil fuels have us continuing to produce carbon dioxide, so we’re in for a few more centuries of increased warming. That’s really what the scientists are most alarmed about. Trying to communicate what that means in terms of frequent, extreme weather events is a challenge. Individual weather events aren’t attributable to climate change, but we will see more Katrinas. It’s a familiar face that we’ll see more often. We have centuries of that ahead of us. The response discussion generally falls under one of two categories. First you have adaptation to what’s already in the pipeline. Then you have mitigation, which is trying to bend that curve of negative consequences down. We’re starting to do that. Green energy is growing and costs are going down. Ultimately, it will be economics that drives this and nothing else. It won’t be scientists jumping up and down; it will be economics, because that’s what drives people’s decisions. The pocketbook talks at the household, local, state and national level. When people see that connection with their own economics, they will act. Prior to that, there will be some do-gooders and tree-huggers, but the person in the street won’t react until there’s economic incentive for them or their children. These changes are so slow that some people aren’t motivated to do anything in their lifetime. But if you talk about children and grandchildren then they come back and realize the importance. We need to connect with that human emotion and say, “Unless we start mitigating climate change, we’re going to leave a less secure, less resilient, less attractive world for our offspring.” People don’t want to do that.

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around the region

UWF Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation earns $231,000 grant to continue oil spill research The University of West Florida Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation was recently awarded a grant totaling $231,000 by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, as part of the larger C-IMAGE II consortium, led by the University of South Florida. The grant spans from January 2015 through December 2017, with a total consortium research budget of $20,500,000. As a result of this grant, faculty and students will be able to begin developing new research this summer regarding how oil interacts with the environment and how the changing chemistry affects microbial growth and food webs. University professors Drs. Wade Jeffrey and Richard Snyder will spearhead the research. “Before the spill happened, not much was known about the oceanographic processes of the coast,” said Dr. Wade Jeffrey, biology professor. “Since we’ve been awarded the grant money, the University has collected an impressive amount of data to discern and track one of the primary concerns people have had since the oil spill: where all of the oil would go.” The grant will be utilized to continue and expand research involving the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. To date, a blend of interdisciplinary University faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students have conducted research on the response of microbial assemblages to water mass mixing and seasonal change. “Oil spill research has brought valuable field experience to graduate and undergraduate students who assist in conducting research,” Jeffrey said. “This has included as many as 20 student-involved trips to sea over the past four years where students assisted with collecting samples on board each time. Once we return to UWF, students participate in sample processing and data analysis for invaluable hands-on research.” The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative was created by a $500 million investment by BP to create a ten year program to broadly conduct independent research in the Gulf of Mexico related to oil spill issues, overseen by a research board made up of 20 science, public health and research administration experts.

Gulf Coast Kids House celebrates expansion The product of a $1 million capital campaign, the Gulf Coast Kid’s House’s new 3,000 square foot expansion of their current building was unveiled April 27. Impact 100 and Sandy Sansing were among those recognized for their contributions. An expanded medical examination room, a relocated conference room, and additional space for all services are just some of the additions made that will help the agency with their goal of serving as an advocate for the area’s abused children. The new center can now more easily accommodate wheelchairs, as well as the increased number of cases the center has to deal with. The center services about 2,600 children a year, up from just a thousand when it was founded.

Locals may run for US Senate With news that Marco Rubio will be vacating his Senate seat to run for president in 2016, two possibilities to replace him have emerged from Northwest Florida. Rep. Jeff Miller, long a well-liked advocate of our armed forces in this area, has entertained the notion. State Sen. Don Gaetz may run as well. He has been instrumental in bringing business to Northwest Florida, shaping the region’s conservative base, and even advocating for some progressive policies, including his son’s Charlotte’s Web medical marijuana legislative last year.

New fluoride standards will not impact ECUA New standards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not change the ECUA’s fluoride standards. The new lower standards are in line with research that indicates too much fluoride can damage and cause splotches on children’s teeth, and make the standard uniform across all climates. The ECUA has been using the new standard 0.7 parts per million for years.

PSC partners with AppRiver to give students workforce experience Pensacola State College computer science students are getting experience working on a real-world software project in a new capstone course that is built around direct involvement with local companies. AppRiver email and web security experts stepped up to offer the first partnership with the class. For the past three months, students have been working on two of AppRiver’s log file formats – importing, processing and analyzing the files. Their goal is to create an application with visual appeal that could be used to give real-time feedback on spam and malware activity. PSC instructor Chad Andrae said he initiated the capstone course because he was aware that local technology companies could not find enough talent to meet their workforce needs. At the same time, he had students who were already demonstrating the potential to be successful software developers. “I began to focus my efforts on ways to get these students recognized so the local companies could see what I see in them and give them a chance to begin their careers here in Pensacola,” Andrae said. “AppRiver expressed a lot of interest in helping with this project, so we have worked closely with them to develop the project specifications for this semester.” Andrae says this inaugural class is already showing success and will continue to be offered as a culminating course for PSC students working on an associate’s degree in computer science. “Each time we offer the capstone course, we want a local business to be involved with defining the project specifications before the course begins,” he said. “This ensures that the students will work on a project that is interesting and beneficial to local businesses. “This capstone course is like a new approach to traditional internships for students before they graduate. Instead of the students going to the company, the company comes to the students. By the end of the semester, all of the students in this course gain valuable experience and the company sees the potential for new employees.”

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around the region

Gulf Power solar farm receives approval On April 23, Gulf Power announced that it had received unanimous approval from the Florida Public Service Commission for three solar energy farms that would be built on Navy and Air Force bases across Northwest Florida. Eglin Air Force Base, Whiting Field in Navarre and Saufley Field, the combined output of which will be an estimated 120 megawatts of electricity. The energy produced via these farms would be enough to power about 18,000 homes for one year. The solar farms will not replace current generation plants, but will serve to diversify Gulf Power’s already existing capabilities. Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2016.

Northwest Florida continues to boast lowest unemployment in the state According to data released by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, counties in Northwest Florida remain among the best-fairing in terms of unemployment. Okaloosa County has the third lowest in the state at 4.6 percent. Santa Rosa’s unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, tied with Franklin County for fourth overall. Walton’s unemployment rate of 4.9 percent is tied with Seminole and Leon counties. Statewide, Florida added 29,000 jobs in March and the overall unemployment rate is 5.7 percent.

UWF ranks high in robotics at regional competition A team of seven electrical and computer engineering students from the University of West Florida on the Emerald Coast placed fourth overall and first among the Florida State University System at the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers SoutheastCon Hardware Competition, held April 9-12, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Environmental manager receives award Mary Beverly, public health services manager for Environmental Health with the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County is the recipient of the 2014 Environmental Award from Woodmen of the World Chapter 906 Santa Rosa. She received the award for her efforts in assisting residents of Santa Rosa County neighborhoods most severely affected by the April 2014 flood. Jimmie Melvin, Chapter 906 president, presented Mrs. Beverly with the award on March 13. It was the first time Woodmen of the World Chapter 906 had presented the award. Heavy rains last April caused many septic systems throughout the county to fail and forced contaminated water into homes and some private drinking water systems. “Mary put on boots and waded through the contaminated water to contact homeowners and distribute health and safety information,” said Sandra L. Park-O’Hara, A.R.N.P., DOH-Santa Rosa administrator. “She went above and beyond. We are all very pleased that she was selected for this award.”

PSC honors six faculty with teaching excellence awards Pensacola State College honored six faculty at the Academy of Teaching Excellence ceremony recently at the Culinary Dining Room on the Pensacola campus. Established in 1986 by Charles Atwell during his tenure as executive vice president, the Academy of Teaching Excellence recognizes outstanding faculty who exhibit sustained excellence in teaching. Each year, several full-time and adjunct faculty members are inducted into the Academy. In 1994, the Academy also began honoring one outstanding new faculty member. A selection committee comprised of former Teaching Excellence winners, students and alumni selected this year’s recipients. The 2015 inductees are Steve Hecht, adjunct instructor, Mathematics; John Holder, assistant professor, History, Languages and Social Sciences; Donna Shumway, professor, Allied Health; Stephen White, assistant professor, Allied Health; and Elizabeth Yelverton, professor, Biological Sciences. Barbara Reitz, instructor, Biological Sciences, was honored as Outstanding New Faculty Member.

29th Annual Naval Aviation Symposium at the National Naval Aviation Museum The Naval Aviation Museum Foundation will present the 29th Annual Symposium on Wednesday, May 6, through Friday, May 8, at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. The three-day event will host a variety of activities highlighting the unique history and proud heritage of Naval Aviation including a golf tournament, luncheon, banquet and panel sessions. Three distinct sessions will feature a panel of Veteran naval aviators discussing milestones in Naval Aviation history and the people who have made and are currently making that history. The Symposium panel discussions are FREE and open to the general public, active duty and retired military.

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SAVE THE DATES Friday, October 16 Grand Southern Tasting 6pm–9pm Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front

PRESENTING SPONSOR:

Savor an ocean of signature dishes and fine wines featuring the area’s top chefs and special guests.

Sunday, October 25 Celebrity Chef John Besh! Meet and Greet & Book Signing 1pm–2:30pm SoGourmet

Honorary Event Chairs: Will and Jane Merrill

Featuring Besh Big Easy, the highly anticipated cookbook showcasing his hometown cuisine in simple recipes.

VIP Dinner

Presented by Chef Besh

Jackson’s Steakhouse

Visit wsre.org/wineandfood to learn more.

All proceeds benefit the mission of WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast.

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Northwest Florida's Business Climate May 2015  
Northwest Florida's Business Climate May 2015