News & Events
Student Central

Northeastern University Selected to Lead Renewed Explosives Research Center of Excellence August 14, 2013

DHS S&T Press Office – Press Release, August 14, 2012

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate announced today the selection of Northeastern University’s Center for Awareness and Location of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) to lead a renewed DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Explosives Research.  S&T will provide ALERT with a $2.5 million grant for the first of five years.

“ALERT already has contributed substantially to the security of the United States through a top-notch explosives research and education program,” said Matthew Clark, Director of S&T’s Office of University Programs (OUP), which manages the COE system.  “ALERT meets DHS’s high standards for scientific quality, and demonstrates readiness and ability to engage with DHS to solve real-world security problems.”

S&T selected the Northeastern-led team through an open call for proposals and a rigorous competitive process, marking the second time Northeastern and its partners have won this distinction.  Under the leadership of Northeastern and the University of Rhode Island, the new ALERT COE will expand efforts initiated in 2008 by the existing Center.  The renewed ALERT will collaborate with DHS S&T, DHS operational components, industrial partners, and other COEs to help the United States detect and defeat explosives threats.  ALERT will also develop relevant educational curricula for both university students and mid-career professionals.

The DHS COEs were established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to be a “coordinated, university-based system to enhance the Nation’s homeland security.”  S&T’s COEs are a well-integrated network of researchers focused on specific high-priority DHS challenges and   work directly with DHS operational agencies to solve complex and difficult security problems.

For more information about OUP and the COEs, please visit www.dhs.gov/st-oup.

Read More

August 1st at 1pm EDT – Technologies for Bomb Response Twitter Chat August 1, 2013

DHS S&T will be hosting a twitter chat on Technologies for Bomb Response today at 1pm EDT. Those of you that are interested can follow the conversation at https://twitter.com/dhsscitech or at #STTechTalk.

The First Responders Group, with support from the Explosives Division and the DHS Office for Bombing Prevention, is hosting a Twitter Chat August 1 from 1:00-2:00 pm EDT. The topic is Technologies for Bomb Response, and the discussion will feature the Semi-Autonomous Pipe Bomb End-Cap Remover (SAPBER), FiRST App (a smart phone application for bomb response), and more!

A Twitter Chat is a virtual, two-way conversation that allows us to reach out to targeted audiences, ask for their feedback on S&T products/services, and answer their questions. We encourage our Twitter followers to tweet (message) us during the Chat so we can provide real-time responses. Twitter users can follow the full conversation using our hashtag (#STTechTalk), a designated word that links tweets from S&T and from participants.

Read More

Summer REU Program is underway at ALERT July 23, 2013

The ALERT Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) 2013 summer program is currently hosting 9 exceptional undergraduate students at Northeastern University, and ALERT partner institutions.  Prof. Carey Rappaport, Prof. Jose Martinez-Lorenzo, and Mr. Richard Moore, are working with the five ALERT REU students at Northeastern University.  Two students are working with Profs. Brandon Weeks and Louisa Hope-Weeks at Texas Tech University, and two students are working with Prof. Samuel Hernandez at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez.

The summer program, which runs for 10-weeks from June 3rd – August 9th , provides students with full-time work experience on ALERT research, as well as meetings and activities geared to enhance professional development.  A few of the students working at NEU begin their involvement in ALERT research through the ALERT Scholars program, which provides freshmen undergraduates an introduction and gateway to engineering research on campus during the spring semester.

Rachel Shaffer, an REU student working with Mr. Moore, began her work with him on Video Analytics through the spring 2013 ALERT Scholars program.  She has become an integral part of his research team, and provided a demonstrated of some of their work during TSA Administrator, John Pistole’s lab visit on June 12th.

At the end of the program, the REU students will give presentations on their research projects.  Students at Texas Tech University and University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez will present to the group online on August 6th, and Northeastern University students will present on August 8th from 9:00am – 1:00pm EST in room 378 in 140 The Fenway.

ALERT 101 is Back! July 17, 2013

ALERT 101: Video Analytics

We are pleased to present the second installment of ALERT 101. This segment’s topic is Video Analytics. ALERT researchers Richard Radke, Octavia Camps, and Venkatesh Saligrama explain what it is, how it’s used, and how they teach computers how to see and learn.

For users without YouTube access: ALERT 101: Video Analytics


This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Award(s) 2008-ST-061-ED0001 and/or 2008-ST-061-ED0002. The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Inspired by the success of TED (www.ted.com) and other educational media forums, ALERT has developed the ALERT 101 video series. Each video short features different technologies and research areas that the ALERT Center engages in. We hope that these productions help educate and inform the global community on these topics in an accessible and enjoyable way.

ALERT hosts TSA Administrator, John Pistole and Boston Air Security Officials at NEU June 18, 2013

On June 12th, 2013, the ALERT Center at Northeastern University hosted a visit by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator, John Pistole, along with acting Boston Field Office Supervisory Air Marshal, David Brown, Boston Logan International Airport Federal Security Director, George Naccara and Kenneth Fletcher, Senior Advisor to the Deputy Administrator at TSA.

The visit was led by the Deputy Director of ALERT, Professor Carey M. Rappaport and included a tour of the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) lab where a group of 20 undergraduate and graduate students participated in demonstrations of ALERT research projects, including Multistatic Millimeter-Wave AIT scanning and Real-Time High-Value 3D External Surface Imaging using the X-Box Kinect sensor.

Prof. Carey Rappaport demonstrates radar technologies to Administrator Pistole

Professor Rappaport also presented his Standoff Detection Experiment, which uses a powerful millimeter-wave radar unit to detect threats from a distance, such as concealed body-worn explosives.

The tour continued in the Video Analytics Lab run by ALERT Professors Octavia Camps and Mario Sznaier. Using cameras and monitors, Professors Camps and Sznaier, along with their students, staged the lab to look like an airport exit lane, and asked Administrator Pistole and his associates to participate in a demonstration of the lab’s Video Analytic Surveillance Transition (VAST)software. The demonstration showed how their software flags “counter-flow” activity, by detecting people who walk “in” through an “exit” lane, thereby alerting security personnel if a person attempted to bypass a TSA checkpoint. Similar software is used for identifying left objects, which was demonstrated by the team when another program flagged a backpack which was left on the ground by a student walking through a crowd.

The visit was an excellent opportunity to present both ALERT research, and other security research that is being done at Northeastern University to Administrator Pistole and his group.

Administrator Pistole demos NEU's VAST software

United States Secret Service Seeking Eligible Students with Chemistry Backgrounds May 23, 2013

The United States Secret Service would like to fund a COE, using the BOA,  to support their Dynamic Ink Aging project. This project involves performing a series of experiments to determine the optimized parameters for assessing the age of ballpoint writing ink.

They are looking for two students who are citizens of the United States, chemistry majors and are able to obtain a security clearance or already have a clearance.  Students have the option to either work on-site in Washington D.C. in the USSS Forensic Lab or off-site in their own university labs. If the students work off-site they must have access to a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS) and a thermal desorption unit (TDU). It is anticipated that the length of the project will be one year.

If interested, please send a resume, bio, and a list of chemistry courses to:

Melanie Smith

617-373-2976

m.smith@neu.edu

Connections are made at ASPIRE March 28, 2013

The ALERT COE and its predecessor, the Bernard M. Gordon Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems has had a thirteen year history of close collaboration with our industrial partners.  To continue this tradition, we have instituted a new annual event, the Annual Student Pipeline Industry Roundtable Event otherwise known as ASPIRE.

ASPIRE’s goal is to have our industrial partners introduce their companies, their products, and their future needs to one another, to our faculty, and to our student population. Held on March 19, 2013, ASPIRE started with 10-minute presentations by our industrial members, followed by short 2-minute presentations by students.  It culminated in a two-hour networking session, consisting of twelve 10 minute “roundtable” discussion slots that companies and students selected as part of the registration process.

The initial feedback from both the industry and our student population has been extremely positive.  Four of our small company members have scheduled follow-on meetings with our large member companies, such as Analogic, Raytheon and Siemens.  Siemens Corporate  Research is also interviewing ALERT graduate students for five new positions.  Many of our participants have requested that ASPIRE be held semiannually.

Through such events, ALERT hopes to create closer collaboration amongst our industrial base, while finding the “right” match for our students and partner institutions.  We expect that such alliances will respond with agility to future market opportunities as well as government BAAs and RFPs, thereby fostering effective technology transfer.

 

[photo credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo]

2013 ALERT REU Summer Program Now Accepting Applications January 16, 2013

We are accepting applications for the upcoming ALERT REU Program. The 10-week paid summer program offers undergraduate engineers the opportunity to engage in ALERT research with faculty members located at Northeastern University in Boston, Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez. The application deadline is February 22, 2013. For more information, and to apply, visit the REU webpage.

Read More

National Research Council seeks Applications for Research Associateships December 6, 2012

Per the National Academies:

The National Research Council of the National Academies announces the 2013 Graduate, Postdoctoral and Senior Research Associateship Programs to be conducted on behalf of federal research laboratories and affiliated institutions in over 100 locations throughout the United States. These programs provide opportunities for Ph.D., Sc.D., or M.D. scientists and engineers of unusual promise and ability to perform research on problems largely of their own choosing, yet compatible with the research interests of the sponsoring laboratory. Initiated in 1954, the Associateship Programs have contributed to the career development of more than 12,000 scientists and engineers ranging from young researchers and recent Ph.D. recipients to distinguished senior scientists.

Annual Application Deadlines: Feb. 1st, May 1st, Aug. 1st, & Nov. 1st

For more details on the awards and application process, please visit the NRC website via the “Read More” link below:

Read More

ALERT presents the first installment of ALERT 101: Airport Screening Technologies December 1, 2012

We invite you to watch the first episode of ALERT 101 which focuses on the applications of Millimeter Wave Scanning and Backscatter X-ray in Airport Security Screening.

 

For users without YouTube access: ALERT 101: Airport Screening Tecnologies
 

Inspired by the success of TED (www.ted.com) and other educational media forums, ALERT has developed the ALERT 101 video series. Each video short will feature different technologies and research areas that the ALERT Center engages in. We hope that these productions help educate and inform the global community on these topics in an accessible and enjoyable way.