Returning Intern Tackles Competition Leadership

December 2015
Marc Green
Marc Green

Marc Green was looking for a challenge. He wanted independence in his work, but with access to more experienced people he could rely on and learn from.

He found his answer at MITRE.

Back for a Second Round

Green is in his second year of a master's degree program in computer science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He had an internship with MITRE last year and returned for a second summer.

"I came back primarily because of the type of work MITRE does. I've had other internships where I felt like I was just churning out code, trying to write a product for a company to sell. It wasn't too fulfilling," says Green. "At MITRE, it's more problem solving, which I love. I'm given a problem to solve and have everything I need to try to do it efficiently."

During both of his experiences at MITRE, Green worked in the National Security Engineering Center, the federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) MITRE operates for the Department of Defense. His first summer, Green spent most of his time working with wireless communication and radio frequencies in anechoic chambers—rooms that prevent signals from entering or leaving. He also wrote several programs to interface with the hardware he worked with.

"It was a whole chain of work," he says. "Everything I did was related."

Building Trust in Trusted Computing

Green has the same supervisors from his first year and is working on a project similar to last summer's. However, his main assignment is a two-team competition involving system development in trusted computing.

"Our job is to create and write the code for an embedded device and connect it to a remote server," he says. "We also have to create a security system for it to prevent third parties from tampering with it. Each team has four weeks to build its system. Then we swap and try to break into the other team's system." The competition links to the strong emphasis MITRE places on research to counter cybersecurity threats.

Each team must create a protocol for the system, implement it, and ensure its security. Green has the most experience of his team members, and he embraced a leadership role for the project.

He has previous leadership experience, but not in a cybersecurity environment. "It's definitely improved my skills. I create and guide discussions when we all get together and brainstorm. I really enjoy seeing the big picture to keep the team moving toward the end goal.

"I'd say the biggest difference is that you have to take into account everyone's strengths and weaknesses and decide how to use each person's strengths to best benefit the team. I really have to know the team and delegate appropriately."

An Environment That Supports Independence

In both internships, Green was pleasantly surprised at his level of independence. "I absolutely love that. My mentor will assign me something to do, and I'll get back to him when I'm finished. Then we proceed to the next thing. It's nice not being micromanaged."

Having independence doesn't mean being left without help, though. "If I have any questions whatsoever, I'm completely comfortable going to someone and saying I don't know how to do something, or I'm not sure how to proceed. Everyone's been more than happy to help me and jump right in."

Green really appreciates the unique position MITRE has managing FFRDCs and working in the public interest. "It's all about the pursuit of knowledge. MITRE isn't selling a product. We're doing research and trying to improve things."

Would he consider a full-time position at MITRE after graduation?

"Definitely."

—by Emily Ready

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