CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The 2023 Virginia Cyber Navigator Boot Camp is going to be held in the Dome Room of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on Thursday and Friday.

The camp is part of the Virginia Cyber Navigator Program, a multi-university internship program launched in fall 2021 in partnership with the Virginia Department of Elections. The program aims to train future cybersecurity professionals to protect election infrastructure.

The six Virginia universities participating in the navigator program are UVA, George Mason University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech – are designated National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. UVA earned National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research designations in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

This year, 39 interns from across the six universities working with 19 Virginia localities are slated to attend. 

The inaugural boot camp, held last year, was attended by 32.

“The work you all are doing is some of the most important for the sake of our democracy,” said Jennifer West, dean of UVA Engineering, at the time. “Being able to trust our elections is at the very core of what it means to be a democracy.”

West returns for this year’s boot camp. Other returners include Jack Davidson, professor of computer science at UVA; Jonathan Barbett, director of information security at the Virginia Department of Elections; Karen Hoyt-Stewart, elections director at Soch, Inc.; and Angela Orebaugh, assistant professor at the University of Virginia.

Planned activities include various speakers as well as a tabletop exercise on how to deal with a ransomware attack.