WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (WDTN) — The Air Force Institute of Technology Center (AFIT) for Cyberspace Research has launched its first ever cyber security competition.

More than 40 cadets gathered around several tables inside an AFIT building — split up into teams.

The goal: to learn how to handle a new type of battlefield.

“15 years ago, if you were going to talk to someone about cyber security you’d talk about credit cards,” Robert Mills, Director for the Center for Cyberspace Research said.

The competition — which centered around teams taking control, and maintaining control of space stations — is the first of its kind in the world.

“It’s like hacking. In fact if another team is skilled they will be able to hack into and take control of an opposing teams spaceship,” Scott Nykl, designer of the program said.

The cadets are college students who are learning the in’s and out’s of programming and networking. While they look like they may be playing a video game, Nykl says they’re actually learning how to keep our country safe from enemy hackers.

We’re able to simulate environments that may actually reflect what they’ll actually see in the real world.”

After this four week program — they’ll focus on graduating and becoming military officers.

Joseph Schmidt, Army ROTC cadet, says the simulation is invaluable to keeping us safe from terrorist organizations.

“See if you can pick up a password that the enemy might be using or try to get some kind of information out of them on their network,” he said.

The program — once marked by budget cuts — is once again soaring.

“This is awesome. I didn’t think I’d end up here. I’m happy. I’m happy with the people that are around me. I think we have awesome instructors and I’m glad they’re able to put something like this together,” he said.