ASPIRE 2018: Bringing Students, Industry, and Government Together

May 30, 2018

The Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event (ASPIRE) was held on Thursday, April 26, 2018 at Northeastern University (Boston, MA). Each year, ASPIRE, hosted by ALERT (Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats) and Gordon-CenSSIS (The Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems), brings together members of the academic, industrial, and government communities to engage in dialogue, and provides networking opportunities for ALERT and Gordon-CenSSIS students looking for internships, co-op opportunities, and employment.

Participants at ASPIRE 2018 included industry representatives from American Science and Engineering/Rapiscan Systems, Pendar Technologies, Smiths Detection, Raytheon, HXI, and Innovation Business Partners; government representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and ALERT-affiliated graduate students from Boston University, Northeastern University, Purdue University, Texas Tech University, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Notre Dame, and Marquette University. New to this year’s ASPIRE was the participation of non-ALERT students, including graduate students from the Northeastern University Master’s Program in Homeland Security.

The event began in the early afternoon with welcoming remarks from Emel Bulat (ALERT Industrial and Government Liaison Officer), Dr. Michael Silevitch (ALERT Director) and Dr. Laura Parker (DHS ALERT Program Manager). Afterward, industry and government members gave 5-minute presentations on their organizations, research needs, and job openings. Another new aspect of this year’s ASPIRE was a series of 15-minute group networking roundtables where students gained experience giving their 2-minute “elevator pitch” and receiving feedback from their peers and industry/government table hosts. This was followed by 10-minute one-on-one sessions between students and industry/government representatives, as well as one-on-one sessions between industry and government representatives.

Muhammad Usman Ghani, a graduate student from Boston University reflected on the value of participating in ASPIRE:

“As engineers, we don’t always get the chance to polish our networking skills. For example, I can explain a problem to another engineer in one sentence, but a general audience may not get it. This event gives you a chance to speak in a simpler and more general sense. It allows you to think outside of the box, rather than just focusing on solving problems.”

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