MITRE Interns Take on Intel, IoT Challenges

February 2017
Over 400 interns spent their summer developing and testing a wide range of projects at MITRE’s Bedford and McLean campuses and twenty other sites.

Facilitating collaborative problem solving. Managing resources in an open-office environment. Following critical events in the flood of intelligence data. Spotting vulnerable devices within the Internet of Things (IoT). These were just a few of the challenges that more than 400 MITRE interns and co-ops took on last summer.

Developing Applications

David Shin worked on the SpiderView for Problem Analysis and Collaborative Engineering app. MITRE first beta-tested the iPad app back in 2013. But the app has yet to find widespread adoption at MITRE because it is limited to the iPad. So Shin helped convert it to a web app, which means it can be used on any device. Following wider internal use, MITRE could release it externally.

The app is particularly useful "when the problem space isn't well understood or poorly defined," said Shin, now a senior at Cornell University. It helps users find new ways of thinking in approaching how to solve a problem.

In addition, having a web app will make it easier to use in a wide variety of situations that require collaborative decision engineering. Diverse teams can use it to define and understand the dimensions of complex problems and to evaluate solution options through real-time quantitative and qualitative scoring and visualization.

This could help MITRE "serve as a catalyst and facilitator for collaborative engineering," Shin said.

Integrating Intelligence Data

Steve Wang and Scott Bettigole helped upgrade the Integrated Environment for Persistent Intelligence Processing system. The project created a prototype that attempts to continuously find entities and derive information of intelligence value from multiple data sources in real time.

Wang, a junior at the University of Virginia, and Bettigole, a junior at Tufts University, helped add a web-based interface, dynamic data subscriptions, stream monitoring, and new data source processing to the software baseline. They also added a view of live updates to an ongoing event. They developed code using a diverse technology stack including Python, Java, MongoDB, Apache Kafka, Apache Spark, and Django.

Prototyping Tools

Some of the students took on challenges that could improve the use of MITRE's internal resources. One project under the "Using Emerging Technologies in the Enterprise Domain: Prototyping the Amazon Echo and Augmented Reality Tools" effort included finding an easier and less expensive way to reserve resources within a collaborative workspace. The team included Joshua James, Pietari Sulkava, and Frankie DiPietro (all Rochester Institute of Technology students) and Nathaniel Weir (University of Maryland-Baltimore County).

Using an individual room wizard for each desk would be expensive, said Sulkava, a third-year computer science major. Instead, the students used a single Amazon Echo unit to reserve desks via voice command. The Echo provided a natural language interface to an existing legacy system.

Their second innovation project looked at using augmented reality to change the way we train staff members at MITRE. The team proposed a new “Point and Learn” paradigm for training. They also showed that pointing a smartphone at an object like the new collaborate-and-capture boards deployed throughout MITRE can unveil detailed instructions and show video snippets about their overall use. Both projects noted that information security requirements would need to be addressed for wider distribution at MITRE.

Fingerprinting IoT Devices

Jon Aho (University of Rochester), Anne Oursler (Tufts University), Carmen Matos (University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez), and Omar Taylor (Iowa State University) helped design the MITRE Challenge, Unique Identification of IoT Devices. The challenge launched in November. The goal is to take advantage of innovation from commercial companies, academia, and individual inventors to develop techniques to fingerprint IoT devices.

To lay the groundwork for the challenge, the students studied devices to see how they behaved when joining a network and in steady state, said Taylor, a junior. They also found hardware that could mimic the behavior of other devices for this purpose.

—by Jeremy D. Singer

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