MITRE-UTSA Cybersecurity Partnership Flourishes in San Antonio

May 2021
MITRE Interns
MITRE employee Cheyenne Sanchez

Former intern turned full-time employee Cheyenne Sanchez.

MITRE’s commitment to fostering strategic relationships with academic partners enables us to facilitate the innovation mindset on college campuses. We engage partners across the nation to help develop a diverse pipeline of cyber experts to solve problems for a safer world. Our collaboration with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) embodies that mission. 

Why UTSA? For one thing, the school has a reputation as one of the nation’s top cybersecurity academic institutions. It’s well-matched to our strategic initiative to generate new opportunities through engagement with academia and industry.

Why San Antonio? There are several reasons. The top-notch research consortium UTSA National Security Collaboration Center is located there. The city has been dubbed “Cyber City USA,” and is a nationally known concentration of cybersecurity company headquarters. It’s also home to a vibrant MITRE site—one that has been contributing to the San Antonio cyber ecosystem for decades.

Bobby Blount Jr., MITRE Texas regional innovation hub lead, says the partnership has already had a significant impact on both organizations and the community.

MITRE intern David Akusu

David Akusu has interned at MITRE while a student at UTSA.

“We’ve managed to merge MITRE ideals and UTSA’s educational initiatives to create learning and teaching opportunities in both directions,” he says. This includes a recent pilot to deploy “expert cyber teams” to assess and strengthen cybersecurity for nonprofits. “We have about 64 UTSA students and 12 MITRE mentors that are working together to protect local churches and nonprofits against cybersecurity threats.”

Here's what some of our recent UTSA interns say about their experience.

“MITRE challenged me to learn skills and technologies far beyond the scope of my academic curriculum. Being tasked with solving problems related to containerization and cloud architecture, I was necessarily required to traverse unfamiliar territory and engage in continuous self-teaching. MITRE’s encouragement to remain vigilant and keep abreast of changing industry trends has allowed me to build a strong foundation for my career.” —Michael King

“The community at MITRE is absolutely inspiring and introduced me to boundless opportunities as a student. From learning about emerging technologies to connecting with top-tier professionals in technical fields, working with MITRE was so much more than I could have asked for. I have been able to reinforce and implement the skills and knowledge that I have obtained throughout my education to solve problems. The association between UTSA and MITRE presents both entities a bright future and limitless possibilities.” —Cheyenne Sanchez

“I have benefited immensely from this opportunity. There’s so much out there that you can’t get in a traditional class, and the experience of working with industry professionals is invaluable. Partnerships like this set the stage for UTSA students to better understand the industry, network and get involved in many research opportunities, and apply what they’ve learned in class to technical assignments.” —Intern David Akusu

“As a student at UTSA, I was fortunate enough to be involved in a very interesting cybersecurity research project. It gave me the opportunity to practice my skills in a real-world application and at the same time, help MITRE move forward with a project. I was so enthralled by this project and had done so much work, that I asked to stay on and keep working for fun, even after I graduated. I was allowed to stay and a few months later I was given the opportunity to apply for a full-time position.” —Ryan DeWalt Vaughn

Many of the UTSA interns continue to work at MITRE during the school year. Several of the them—including Sanchez, King, and Vaughn—applied for and were hired as full-time staff after they graduated.

by Kay M. Upham

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