Science and Technology skills – and cyber skills, in particular – are now among the most-in demand skills within the federal government. A growing number of programs are focusing on recruiting S&T candidates into government work early. Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service, reports:
A new graduate program approved by Education Secretary Arne Duncan will help intelligence officers to study and research a growing range of emerging threats.
“Intelligence professionals must be able to address any threat and avoid surprises,” said Brian Shaw, dean of the National Intelligence University’s Anthony G. Oettinger School of Science and Technology Intelligence. “With our adversaries’ increased emphasis on technology,” he added, “it is imperative that institutions like ours better equip intelligence professionals to deal with these ever-evolving challenges.”
NIU President David Ellison said the new one-year, full-time graduate program will culminate in a master of science and technology intelligence degree.
The first class, which graduated July 27, included some students from the previous academic year, when the program was in development, NIU Provost Susan Studds said. The curriculum has been in place since the last academic year, she explained, even as the review and approval processes were under way.
“As part of the approval determination,” she said, “the Department of Education has allowed NIU to ‘grandfather’ qualified students who were enrolled in the pilot year of the curriculum in 2010-2011.” Ellison said all applicants must be U.S. citizens who hold active top-secret clearances, and must be military service members or federal government employees.
“Students must meet NIU academic standards as determined by the faculty,” he added. “NIU admissions screening includes a review of previous academic work at other colleges and universities, graduate record examination scores and a writing sample.”
Students who meet basic eligibility requirements and are academically qualified must be nominated by their parent organizations to attend, Ellison said.
The importance of the degree program was highlighted in a recent Department of Education report acknowledging that for intelligence officers the highly classified nature of the subject matter limits equivalent study in the nonfederal education community.
NIU is positioned to offer the advanced curriculum and has the facilities to teach and conduct research at the highest classification levels, DIA officials said. Ellison said the program fills an identified void in the education of science and technology intelligence officers.
“Many training programs are available, but none that can be conducted in a classified learning environment,” he said. “This is one of the main reasons Department of Education officials were unanimous in their recommendation decision.”
Shaw said students enrolled in the new program will get hands-on experience in everything from experimental laboratory programs run cooperatively with Energy Department national laboratories, to developing advanced analytical techniques for intelligence analysis, systems theory and science and technology threat architectures.
“Students who write science–based intelligence theses have a chance to interact with scientists at one of our national laboratories,” he added, “and may conduct up to three months of funded research on joint topics of interest with a scientist at one of our national labs.”
Students also will develop theoretical and analytical frameworks for understanding adversarial threats associated with changing S&T-related geopolitical and strategic intelligence issues affecting national security, Shaw said.