Second Annual DHS COE Summit Highlights Homeland Security Challenges
The 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit was held on Wednesday, July 31st and Thursday, August 1st at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. This year’s summit focused on the topic of Homeland Security Challenges: Evolving Threats and Dynamic Solutions.
The ALERT management team collaborated with other COE leadership to coordinate the second year of this unique event. The 2019 Summit involved stimulating panel discussions on homeland security topics, intriguing demonstrations of COE technologies, and focused engagement opportunities for students, industry and DHS end-users. This year’s attendees included a broad range of participants including COE researchers and collaborators, members of industry, and several divisions of the US Government. During the summit, interaction amongst these attendees helped create new connections, inspire ideas, and advance collaboration towards solving homeland security issues.
The agenda for the summit began with a keynote address from Matt Coates, Deputy Director for the DHS Office of University Programs, which led into the two-day agenda including concurrent panel discussions focused on two topics – Gray Zone Threats and Homeland Security Challenges in a Highly Networked World. ALERT Director, Michael B. Silevitch led a panel discussion on how these Gray Zone Threats extend to physical soft targets and crowed places outside of the traditional military, industrial or political infrastructure. The focus of the panel addressed active shooter events and panel members included Larry Balding from ALERRT, Matthew Pruitt of NEC, Kevin Clement from the University of Houston College of Technology, Carl Crawford of Csuptwo, and Neil Sandhoff from Evolv Technology.
Another highlight of the summit was the Innovation Showcase, which allowed COEs to provide live or video demonstrations of their successful research efforts. This showcase established an environment for discussion of technology transfer opportunities between the COEs and attendees from the DHS components and industry. ALERT highlighted its recent successes with stand-off detection technologies, 3D cargo scanning, millimeter wave imaging, and video analytics in an airport security checkpoint.
Outside the Innovation Showcase area, ALERT students Mohammad Nemati of Northeastern University and Annette Colón Mercado of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM) were on-hand to represent ALERT’s research in Thrust R3 related to bulk sensors and sensor systems as part of the summit’s COE Student Poster Display and Competition.
DHS COEs take pride in their students’ contributions and efforts. To foster student innovation, student participants were encouraged to take part in the summit’s “Grand Challenge” competition. Leading up to and culminating at the summit, talented undergraduate and graduate students from each of the COEs collaborated on solutions to address emerging homeland security concerns. ALERT students, Emily Belk of Northeastern University and Annette Colón Mercado of UPRM both participated in this challenge and both were recognized for their efforts.
The summit concluded with a DHS keynote address from William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for S&T, who also presented certificates to the winners of the Grand Challenge Award. First place winners proposed an “Automated Drone Integrated Information System (ADIIS)” and included ALERT Student Emily Belk of Northeastern University. Emily presented the team’s proposal to the summit audience. The ADIIS goal is to address the challenge in identifying and classifying UAS through a combination of registration incentives and tracking methods. The team including ALERT Student Annette Colón Mercado of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM), won second place for their proposal entitled, “Drone-based MIR Laser Induced Thermal Imaging for Identification of Chemical Substances.” The group explained their proposal’s value as it would reduce the amount of human resources needed during security missions, increase situational awareness, and minimize illicit chemicals crossing the border.
The summit provided an extremely collaborative environment to address homeland security issues by gathering some of the top academic, public, and private sector leaders in the world to discuss strategy and the advancement towards Homeland Security goals. ALERT looks forward to the next DHS COE Summit and congratulations to both Grand Challenge teams, Emily, and Annette!