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ALERT is a multi-university Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence (COE). One of 12 Centers of Excellence across the country, ALERT is a multi-university, multi-institution, partnership that seeks to conduct transformational research, develop technology, and provide educational development to improve effective characterization, detection, mitigation and response to explosives-related threats facing the country and the world.

Researchers in this partnership bring strengths in advanced sensor design, standoff weak-target detection, signal processing, sensor integration, explosives characterization, improvised explosive device (IED) detonator signatures, shock physics, and material science. This expertise, combined with resources from national lab affiliates and other industrial and government partners, form a team capable of carrying out the daunting ALERT mission.

Providing ultra-reliable screening, improving the ability to detect explosives at a distance, and unequivocal pre- and post-blast mitigation are among the real-world challenges the center looks to impact. These challenges have defined our four core fundamental science research thrusts:

  • Explosives Characterization
  • Explosives Sensors
  • Explosive Sensor Systems
  • Blast Mitigation

The program includes pre-college, undergraduate, graduate and career professional components. The center offers a High-Tech Tools and Toys Lab for both community college students and college freshmen, an Engineering Leadership Program focusing on Department of Homeland Security Topics, and workshops and short courses that present new technologies related to threat detection and mitigation for first responders such as the Secret Service, Transportation Safety Administration, police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians.

ALERT partners closely with industry in order to transition research into fieldable systems. The Center accomplishes this by working closely with partners and researchers to identify opportunities, pursuing joint proposals, and collaborative conferences like the Research and Industrial Collaboration Conference. By seamlessly linking industry, government and academic partners, ALERT creates powerful collaborations that successfully transition technology.