(May 13, 2019) -- MITRE became the National Security Collaboration Center’s (NSCC) latest partner with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UTSA leadership on Friday. The formal partnership covers membership into the NSCC, a presence on campus, research collaborations, academic modules and pilot programs specializing in cyber. These endeavors target UTSA students and local San Antonio elementary school students. This brings the number of NSCC federal and industry partners to 36 to date.
MITRE is a not-for-profit company that operates seven federally funded research and development centers and works with industry and academia to solve problems that challenge the nation's safety and stability. MITRE’s 8,000 employees at locations around the world deliver innovative solutions in the defense, intelligence, transportation, homeland security, healthcare, and cybersecurity fields.
“Today’s MOU signing exemplifies the variety of research collaborations taking place in the national security and cyber spheres. Membership in the NSCC can be customized to fit the needs of our students and other campus stakeholders while also serving the needs of our partners and the nation,” said Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA interim vice president for research, economic development, and knowledge enterprise.
Executive Julie Gravallese, vice president for programs and technology integration, was the signing official for MITRE. Representatives also included Sarah MacConduibh, vice president, Air Force programs, Joe Ferraro, technical director, cyber operations; Farrell Taylor, Air Force cyber portfolio manager; Mike Minter, Air Force cyber portfolio manager; Mike Leonard, co-department head, crypto and cyber mission systems; and Bobby Blount, department head at MITRE’s San Antonio operations.
Kimberly Andrews Espy, UTSA provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Arulanandam signed on behalf of UTSA. NSCC partners Adam Cavazos, Chris Cook, and Joe Sanchez, CyberTexas Foundation; Josh Cook, 25th Air Force; Marcel Johnson, Port San Antonio; Richard Naething, Sandia National Laboratories; Ray Bateman and Kristin Schweitzer, ARL South Cyber, were all in attendance.
MITRE is bringing its Generation AI program to campus. UTSA was selected to be an early adopter as one of five pilot schools for Generation AI. Faculty members participating in the recently-completed pilot were Jianwei Niu (the program lead), Paul Rad, Ashwin Malshe and Jeff Prevost. Further training will be provided this summer to non-STEM faculty with new AI lesson modules scheduled to be launched this fall. UTSA is considered a “Pioneer School” as the program will be rolled out to additional universities later this year.
Generation AI’s purpose is to expose every student to Artificial Intelligence (AI), independent of their field of study. MITRE has developed a cloud-based platform (Generation AI Nexus) that allows even students with limited computer science skills to manipulate large datasets using data analytics and AI without having to write code. Using Generation AI Nexus, undergraduate students across disciplines can complete projects that use large datasets, data analytics and data visualization. Mentorship and training in technology and instructional design for teachers and students are among of the benefits of the program.
"We’re pleased to partner with UTSA on this initiative to give students access to cutting-edge AI tools and data sets they’d normally never encounter,” said Blount. “The students will develop skills in AI and other areas like cybersecurity that are critical to our solving our nation’s most challenging problems.”
The two organizations will also collaborate in research and workforce development within the NSCC. While UTSA is already a member with Glenn Dietrich as its lead, the institution’s participation in the NSA INSuRE (Information Security Research and Education) project will be expanded by working with MITRE. InSuRE builds research skills for graduate students through a research network between CAE-Rs (Centers of Academic Excellence in Research) in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense, addressing government cyber-realm challenges.
The UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), MITRE, the Northside Independent School District (NISD), and the CyberTexas Foundation is also creating a pilot program using the Cyber Threat Defender game, developed by CIAS, to be used in afterschool programs in a small selection of local San Antonio schools targeting fourth and fifth graders. The game teaches the basics of cybersecurity in a fun and dynamic way.
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