News & Events
DHS COE News
ALERT Student Emily Belk featured in podcast, “Thinking Through Autonomy” January 3, 2020
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit Grand Challenge Student Competition was held on July 31, 2019 at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. ALERT Student Emily Belk of Northeastern University and her team won first place with their proposal entitled, “Automated Drone Integrated Information System (ADIIS).” In October 2019, she was invited to participate in Ken Dunlap’s podcast, “Thinking Through Autonomy”, along with other students and mentors to discuss their research and experiences at the Grand Challenge Student Competition. Others featured in the podcast included COE representatives who advised the student participants and served on the COE Summit Grand Challenge Committee – Beth Austin-DeFares from the Maritime Security COE at Stevens Institute of Technology, Stu Mackenzie from the Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis COE at George Mason University, and Andrea Whitesell from the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute COE at the University of Illinois at Urbana– Champaign, as well as, Will Case, a student from Johnson C. Smith University who was a member of the second place winning team.
Hear Emily’s experiences during the Grand Challenge and her work with ALERT on the podcast, “Thinking Through Autonomy”.
ALERT Awarded Two New Task Orders November 29, 2018
Maturation and Validation of Dielectric Characterization Algorithms Task Order
ALERT has received a task order contract from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) to mature and operationalize the Advanced Imaging Technology material characterization (complex dielectric constant) algorithms being developed in ALERT Projects R3-A.2 and R3-B.1, led by ALERT Researchers, Dr. Carey Rappaport and Dr. Jose Martinez-Lorenzo of Northeastern University, respectively.
The task order, known as the “Maturation and Validation of Dielectric Characterization Algorithms,” will allow ALERT to use DHS owned images captured originally for the DHS S&T/TSA “Passenger Screening Algorithm Challenge.” The data for this prize competition was originally captured on the Apex Screening at Speed (SaS) High Definition – Advanced Imaging Technology (HD-AIT) laboratory prototype designed by Pacific Northwest National Lab. These images are available in several different file formats, including raw reflectivity formats. The data also includes ground truth information including relative body zone and materials for objects of interest. In the future, this data set may be augmented with additional images from future data collections. The end state for this development is an operationally functioning algorithm that is able to:
- Integrate with provided open file formats to add material characterization capabilities to existing Automatic Threat Recognition (ATR) algorithms;
- Demonstrate performance improvements (namely false alarm rate reduction while maintaining probability of detection) over current ATR algorithms;
- Run in near-real time, almost suitable for an operational environment; and
- Provide TSO-friendly output that will classify a foreign object into one of three categories (unlikely to be explosive, possible explosive threat, and undetermined).
Correlation of Luggage and Specific Passengers (CLASP) Algorithm Maturation and Deployment Task Order
ALERT has also received a DHS S&T task order contract, titled “Correlation of Luggage and Specific Passengers (CLASP) Algorithm Maturation and Deployment,” to mature algorithms developed under the ALERT CLASP Program so that the passenger-baggage tracking capability is sufficiently robust to support operational pilots and to support risk-based screening in an airport environment. DHS S&T has a variety of projects supporting the development of next-generation aviation security capabilities as a part of its Apex Screening at Speed (SaS) Program. Under the Apex SaS Program, passenger and carry-on screening requirements have necessitated adoption of a risk-based screening approach to the aviation checkpoint. In support of these risk-based screening requirements, the Apex SaS Program seeks to develop video analytics algorithms capable of associating passengers and their carry-on items as they travel through the airport checkpoint. Combined with existing TSA technologies, these algorithms will enable risk-based screening to occur on a per passenger and per item basis, improving screening efficiency and increasing overall passenger throughput. As a secondary benefit, effective video analytics will be able to identify thefts or items left behind at the checkpoint.
DHS S&T is seeking the following from the ALERT CLASP Algorithms project to further meet the needs of the Apex SaS Program:
- Algorithms capable of associating passengers and their carry-on items as they traverse the airport checkpoint that are robust to variations in lighting, passenger density, glare, camera angles, etc;
- Requirements and best practices for algorithm deployment in an operational environment (recommended hardware, configurations, etc.); and
- Algorithms capable of leveraging passenger/bag association information to identify actions at the checkpoint (such as interaction with scanning equipment, item theft, or items left behind).
Job Opportunity: United States Coast Guard November 29, 2018
November 29, 2018
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Research and Development Center (RDC) is looking for a qualified candidate to fill the job opening of “Interdisciplinary Position: General Research Engineer/ Physical Research Scientist/Operations Research Analyst” in New London, Connecticut. The chosen candidate will serve as a member on project teams that have the ultimate goal of helping the Coast Guard improve its effectiveness and efficiency through the introduction of innovative technologies, tools, methods, and concepts of operations. The deadline to apply for this position is December 6, 2018.
For more information about the position, please visit: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/517688300
2018 DHS COE Summit Facilitates Collaboration and Advances DHS Mission July 31, 2018
ALERT, along with other current and emeritus DHS Centers of Excellence (COEs), hosted the 2018 Centers of Excellence Summit in Arlington, Virginia on May 30-31, 2018. The event focused on the topic of “University Research and Development to Protect the Homeland.” The DHS COE Summit provided the Centers of Excellence an opportunity to showcase their innovative solutions to homeland security challenges and facilitate collaboration across homeland security enterprise leadership and component end-users and industry participants. According to ALERT Center Director, Michael B. Silevitch,
“One of the most valuable aspects of the Summit was the teamwork needed to pull it together. It required a concerted effort by all of the COEs to organize and orchestrate the event. Going forward, this teamwork will lead to meaningful cross-center collaboration.”
The agenda for the two-day long summit was launched with a keynote address from Christopher C. Krebs, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary, National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) and included talks by various security administrators, panel discussions, student posters, and a technology showcase.
Director Silevitch moderated a panel focused on “Transportation and Critical Infrastructure” on the first day of the summit. Panelists Carl Crawford, Eva Lee, David Nicol, and Detlof VonWinterfeldt addressed four questions related to this topic:
- What are some of the grand challenges that need to be addressed to enable the next generation of Homeland Security transportation and critical infrastructure solutions?
- What research needs to be done in order to address these challenges?
- How can the research outcomes be effectively transitioned to the field?
- What metrics can be used to enable a cost-benefit analysis of the research/transition impact?
ALERT’s Transition Team made connections with end users at the technology showcase and featured some of ALERT’s latest solutions in multi-view air cargo CT scanners, effective personnel screening, video tracking at the airport security checkpoint, and K9 explosives training aids.
COEs excel in advancing the state of the art thanks in large part to their student researchers. To acknowledge this, the summit provided students with the opportunity to present their work to attendees. Katherine Graham, one of ALERT’s talented undergraduate researchers, took home the Best Poster Award for her work on “Compressive Reflector Antennas for High-Sensing Capacity Imaging Applications.” These antenna designs provide a less complex and lower cost solution for high-sensing capacity millimeter wave imaging systems. Millimeter wave imaging systems have the potential for use in several near-field imaging applications such as security screening, non-destructive testing, autonomous driving, and biotechnology. The abstracts for the COE Summit student posters are available for download on the COE Summit 2018 website.
The summit provided an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing homeland security challenges by bringing together some of the nation’s best academic, public, and private sector leaders to discuss strategies for advancing the mission of the Department of Homeland Security. ALERT looks forward to the next DHS COE Summit, and hopes you will join us there!
Time is running out! May 17, 2018
COE Summit Registration Deadline is THIS FRIDAY, May 18th
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Summit 2018: University Research & Development to Protect the Homeland
Summit Dates: May 30-31, 2018
Location: George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA
The deadline to register for the 2018 Centers of Excellence (COE) Summit is this Friday, May 18th. Don’t miss this interactive event which brings together researchers, DHS components, industry and first responders to discuss next-generation technology and tools developed to solve homeland security challenges.
This year’s summit features keynotes and discussions with top leaders in homeland security, including:
- Christopher Krebs, Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary,NPPD
- Corey Gruber, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Response and Recovery, FEMA
- Darby LaJoye, Assistant Administrator, Office of Security Operations, TSA
- Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner, CBP
- Matthew Allen, Assistant Director, Investigative Programs Homeland Security Investigations, ICE
- William (Bill) Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology, DHS S&T
- Anneli Bergholm Soder, Head of the Operations, Department of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency
- Daniel Kaniewski, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency
The COE Summit’s Full Agenda also includes panel sessions on homeland security topics, an innovation showcase and student posters session.
Register HERE by May 18, 2018.
The COE Summit is sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COEs). The COE network is a consortium of hundreds of universities that conduct research and education to address homeland security challenges. ALERT is one of nine current Centers of Excellence sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Office of University Programs.
View the Latest DHS COE Summit 2018 Agenda Online May 4, 2018
United States Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Summit 2018: University Research & Development to Protect the Homeland
This Centers of Excellence (COE) organized event is a unique opportunity for COE researchers, DHS components, federal, state, and local stakeholders, as well as industry partners to connect, network, and address key issues of mutual interest.
WHEN: May 30-31, 2018
WHERE: George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA
This year’s Keynote Speakers include:
- Kevin McAleenan, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security
- Matthew C. Allen, Assistant Director, Investigative Programs Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology Department of Homeland Security
Visit the Innovation Showcase
- Products to assist operational decision-makers
- Technologies to save lives and protect property
- Tools to safeguard the borders
Attend Panel Sessions
- Natural and manmade disasters
- Transportation and critical infrastructure
- Cross-border movement of people, goods, data and capital
Explore the Latest Student Research
- Undergraduate, graduate-level and professional development students
- Discuss research, case studies and technology developments
This event is sponsored by the national network of university-led U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COEs), an extended consortium of hundreds of universities conducting research and education to address homeland security challenges.
ALERT invites you to the COE Summit on May 30-31, 2018! April 20, 2018
The Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence Summit 2018 will take place on May 30-31, 2018 at George Mason University in Arlington Virginia. ALERT would like to invite industry partners, researchers, homeland security operators, and other center community members to gather to collaborate on this year’s theme:
University Research & Development to Protect the Homeland
The summit will feature experts on relevant subject matter to discuss homeland security challenges, and facilitate collaboration between COE researchers and DHS leadership, as well as component end-users and industry participants. This year’s summit strives to showcase innovative research and development tools and other solutions to homeland security challenges, and to provide avenues to accelerate transition from research and development to operational use for those who protect the homeland.
The program includes panels with experts, a student poster and innovation showcase, demonstrations of tools and technology, opportunities for collaboration, and an address by William N. Bryan, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technology in the Department of Homeland Security.
To register and for more information on the Centers of Excellence Summit 2018, visit the summit’s website – www.cina.gmu.edu/coe-summit-2018
The COE Summit is sponsored by the United States Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence (COEs). The COE network is a consortium of hundreds of universities that conduct research and education to address homeland security challenges. ALERT is one of nine current Centers of Excellence sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security Office of University Programs.Read More
Fundamentals of Explosives Course January 27, 2017
A Fundamentals of Explosives Course is being offered at the University of Rhode Island from May 2-4, 2017. This course examines the chemistry of explosives, the physics of detonation waves and their initiation, and the issues involved in safe handling and characterizing these materials. Explosive output and coupling to surroundings, with specific application to structural response, will be discussed. The course will address terrorist bombings, the gathering, analysis and interpretation of evidence, improvised explosives, and explosive detection. Lecturers are internationally known experts.
There will also be an optional Explosive Analysis & Safety session on Friday May 5, 2017 with an emphasis on techniques in mass spectrometry and thermal analysis as well as best practices in laboratory work with explosives.
Space is limited and early registration is encouraged. For more information about this course, please reach out directly to ALERT researcher, Dr. Jimmie Oxley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job Opportunity at BTI Institute December 9, 2016
The Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at University of Houston, is looking to hire a new Communications Coordinator. The position includes coordinating communications activities in support of a university program, including, but not limited to, publications, newsletters, annual reports, web site, and informational and solicitation materials. The job is located in Houston, TX.
For more information, view the job posting here.
RAND 2017 Graduate Student Summer Associate Program November 30, 2016
DHS’s new Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), the Homeland Security Operations Analysis Center (operated by Rand) sponsors a Graduate Student Summer Associate Program at RAND. All applications are due January 5, 2016.
This program provides a great opportunity for graduate students across the Centers of Excellence to explore a career serving the Homeland Security Enterprise through FFRDC research and analysis. The program is designed for full-time students who have completed at least two years of graduate work leading to a doctorate or professional degree. Further details about the program and eligibility criteria are described on our Graduate Student Summer Associate Program website.
This year’s application instructions are listed on the program website.