Department of Advanced Technologies professor and students share internship program experiences

Department of Advanced Technologies professor and students share internship program experiences

“This research assignment gave me the opportunity to develop many skills that will help my academic and career planning,” said Jessica Williams, a junior, majoring in applied science with a concentration in geographical information science and technology (GISAT)/homeland security.

Williams, along with Quanesha Jackson ’13 and assistant professor Sam Nwaneri, participated in the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Summer Research Team Program for Minority Serving Institutions (MSI). This Program provides research opportunities to diverse and highly talented individuals in order to increase and enhance the scientific leadership of MSI in research areas that support the mission and goals of DHS.

Now that the internship has ended, the Alcorn group reflected upon their experiences at the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism (CREATE) at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California, this summer, and discussed the positive impacts it will have on their future aspirations and professional goals.

Williams said, “This project gave me the opportunity to work with other people on my team, staff from CREATE, and faculty members from USC. The research project has provided me with such a great experience. I am interested in a career in law enforcement, and throughout the assignment, I was able to interact with the Los Angeles Police Department and establish contacts to build my professional network.”

Jackson stated, “Homeland Security is a new field of study and I believe it has a lot to offer to individuals like me who would like to counter terrorism to create better public safety and protect a few of our core values—tradition, culture, and opportunity.”

The Center, led by the USC, develops advanced tools to evaluate the risks, costs, and consequences of terrorism. The program is also designed to engage faculty, undergraduate and graduate students in research that will provide them opportunities to understand the mission and needs of DHS in advanced research areas of importance. The goal of the program is to strengthen the talent pool of scientists and engineers. Teams, each consisting of one faculty member and one to two students, participated in a research project for 10 weeks, and concluded their summer with a presentation to DHS researchers and program managers.

“This program was a great opportunity to gain deeper professional understanding of the vast scope of DHS’ work including their mission, objective, and enterprise,” Dr. Nwaneri said. The USC Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) is a national Center of Excellence (COE) that promotes the organization’s professional undertakings through academia and transitions the impacts to society.”

Dr. Nwaneri further explained, “Being assignd to CREATE, we collaborated with Drs. Mike Orosz and Errol Southers at the USC on a research project Emerging Terrorism Against the Elements of Geographic Location, which allowed us to focus on defining ‘passive terrorism,’ developing a methodology for evaluating it, and constructing a cost-effective disaster and emergency response management plan.”

The program was funded through the DHS Science and Technology Directorate Office of University Programs.