Training New Generation of Homeland Security Researchers Is Urgent Task

CCICADA is Teaching University Students, Professors and Other Groups

Participants in the 2014 RECONNECT program compare notes. From left: Dr. Dhruba Adhikari, Bellarmine University; Dr. M.A. Karim, Southern Polytechnic State University; and Dr. Michael Ackerman, Bellarmine University

(L-R) Dhruba Adhikari, M.A. Karim, and Michael Ackerman participate in a Reconnect 2014 workshop on forensics.

It is not enough to simply develop solutions and tools to solve important homeland-security problems. We must educate and train technically knowledgeable people of all ages to use the best available tools to solve these problems.

An important part of CCICADA’s mission is education. We are working to produce a new generation of homeland security researchers and practitioners, well equipped to create and implement innovative solutions. We provide education and training to students, faculty, professional analysts and first responders. These participants—and others from a broad set of disciplines centered on data acquisition, analysis, management, and decision making— participate on all of the research teams and projects at the center.

CCICADA undergraduate, graduate, and 9-12 education programs include:

  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs)
  • Workshops and tutorials
  • Graduate student training & development
  • Reconnect (current-research workshops)
  • Student internships at homeland-security agencies
  • Courses and materials development
  • Summer research programs for minority-serving institutions (MSIs)
  • Educational programs for professionals

Former REU Student Diane Render now works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program (REU), housed at Rutgers University, provides advanced undergraduates from around the country with exciting research experiences. As part of CCICADA’s research teams, they work on problems like stadium evacuation, prevention of child sex trafficking, and detection of adverse disease events. Each student has an individual mentor and multiple opportunities to present their results during the summer.

These experiences lead to bigger things. For example, Diane Render, an REU 2010 student from Albany State University in Georgia, finished her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Tuskegee University, and now works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. James Manning, from the University of South Carolina, REU 2010, completed his Law Degree at the University of Virginia and now works for a large New York Law firm. REU students are introduced to industrial research in addition to research important to the homeland security of our country.

Course and materials development is an important component of knowledge transfer. CCICADA-developed materials and courses provide new knowledge to tens of thousands of students and practitioners nationwide. CCICADA emphasizes modules based on CCICADA research and that of other DHS Centers of Excellence. These modules are classroom tested, widely used, and cover 5 to 8 days of instruction.

Books related to homeland security and CCICADA research have also been published, among them: Optimal Learning by Warren Powell and Ilya Rhyzov and The Mathematics of Encryption – an Elementary Approach by Margaret (Midge) Cozzens and Steven Miller. Here is a sampling of university courses developed:


Brian Thompson, a former DHS fellow through CCICADA, now works at the Army Research Laboratory.

  • Optimal Learning (Princeton)
  • Privacy-preserving Technologies (Texas Southern)
  • Encryption for Criminal Justice and Political Science (Rutgers/Williams)
  • Visual Analytics (UMass-Lowell)
  • Visual Analytics of Massive Graphs (UMass-Lowell)
  • Internet and the Information Environment (Rutgers)
  • Game Theory and Homeland Security (West Point)
  • Game Theory and Sustainability (Winona State University)
  • Data Analytics Course in development (Rutgers and beyond)

Workshops and tutorials are designed for a variety of audiences, covering topics such as urban planning for climate events, Hurricane Sandy research, cascading changes in power transmission systems, reliability and resiliency of networks, and risk-averse decision making.

At CCICADA’s week-long RECONNECT workshops, undergraduate-teaching faculty and other professionals are exposed to new research topics related to homeland security. They develop modules related to these research topics to take back to their own classrooms, and they make them available for use nationwide. Faculty and other professionals come from all over the country, many from minority serving institutions. Topics have included Forensics, Privacy, Text Extraction, Water Infrastructure Contamination and Risk Analysis, Game Theory, Visual Analytics, Bio-Surveillance, and Social Networks (June 2015). Many new courses have resulted from these Reconnect Workshops, reaching over 30,000 students.

Graduate students are key players in all CCICADA programs, both research and education. More than 40 affiliated graduate students work at CCICADA partner organizations every year. They are heavily engaged in CCICADA projects such as stadium security, CBP container inspection, and Coast Guard resource allocation. They are also heavily engaged in education programs as assistant mentors in REU, and as lecturers/role models for undergraduate programs, especially the programs that encourage minorities to enter STEM disciplines.

MSI Programs are designed to provide opportunities for minority serving institutions to participate in CCICADA’s research and education programs. Five MSIs are partner institutions of CCICADA: City College of New York, Howard University, Morgan State University, Texas Southern University, and Tuskegee University. Other MSIs participate through DHS-funded summer programs for faculty and students and Scientific Leadership Awards, most recently given to the University of Texas San Antonio and Tennessee State University after CCICADA guidance.

Educational programs for professionals, aimed at professionals in the “homeland security enterprise” (HSE)—include short courses, seminars and tutorials, some for credit. These programs expose participants to new tools and new approaches, many of them developed by CCICADA and its partner US Department of Homeland Security University Centers of Excellence. As an example, the March 2015 “Learning Seminar and Tutorial” on Maritime Cyber Security, the nation’s first, had an attendance of more than 150 and was video-streamed live to a remote homeland-security audience of more than 200.


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