Students Tackle Missile Defense and More

January 2018
MITRE Interns
MITRE Interns

Have you ever analyzed space-based infrared systems and defense systems? Identified early warning signs of political or social unrest around the world? Used spectral clustering to reroute air traffic? Employed cognitive assistance techniques to attract co-op candidates?

MITRE interns have. Several of them showcased their research at a student-focused event during the summer of 2017—a highlight for the students and full-time employees alike.

Improving Space-Based Infrared Systems

Joshua Christ, a senior majoring in computer science with an emphasis on cybersecurity at California State Fullerton, worked on a project that analyzed space-based infrared systems and early warning missile defense systems. His work supported MITRE's efforts to improve our nation’s ability to detect and defend against incoming attacks.

Part of that solution involved converting current documents to visual representations and aggregating them into one constructive diagram. The simpler visualization makes them easier to track at one time.

"We want to establish a good understanding of the system we're working with," Christ said during the event. "And then we want to move on and create good baseline behavior and detection capabilities as well as improve the resiliency of the system. The end goal is to better identify the attack surface and reduce some of the vectors of attack that bad actors or attackers could use to compromise the system we're working with."

Recognizing Early Warning Indicators of Global Unrest

Lindsey Lozoskie, a sophomore at the Hume Center for National Security at Virginia Tech, and Sophie Faaborg-Andersen, a senior at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, analyzed data looking for non-traditional early-warning indicators of political or social unrest around the world.

The team worked with senior MITRE staff to develop a cross-disciplinary warning framework, integrating financial, economic, political, and social data. The project outlined how data analysis of such indicators as oil prices, economic policies, investments, and media campaigns could be used to better anticipate conflict or instability in a country or region.

Improving Air Traffic Flows via Enhanced Spectral Clustering

These days, there's increased demand for access to airspace, especially with the addition of commercial space operators. The need for methods to rapidly and accurately assess the impact of blocking the airspace—as well as finding ways to quickly reroute air traffic—is more important than ever.

Nate Vollbrecht, a junior at the University of Michigan, developed a method, using a spectral clustering algorithm, to accurately assess heavily blocked traffic routes and quickly come up with alternative routings. Using techniques such as dynamic time warping and variable cluster sizing, he improved the accuracy of the modeling.

Using Cognitive Assistance to Connect Students to MITRE

How do you effectively direct students to MITRE for co-op opportunities? Job fairs are great, but what do you do if the person staffing the booth is busy? Are there ways to engage a student after the fair is over? And are there leave-behinds to help potential co-op candidates understand whether MITRE is right for them?

Three of our co-ops spent the summer developing a solution. The team—Pietari Sulkava, a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in computer science; Paul Galatic, a junior majoring in computer science at the Rochester Institute of Technology; and Ian Gross, a graduate student in computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—thought cognitive assistance could help.

Using IBM Bluemix and Watson and back-end discovery cognitive tools, the three developed programs that allow students to have conversations about MITRE and what it offers using ChatBot Client, the NAO interactive robot, or the Amazon Echo Show interface.

The Amazon Echo Show, for example, allowed the student to discuss MITRE by saying "Alexa, start a conversation with MITRE." Students could also scan in a resume.

The goal of the devices was to make co-op candidates learn whether the MITRE environment would be a good fit for them before stepping onto the campus or a MITRE site.

—by Tom Nutile

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