January 25, 2022

Center for Global Affairs Cyber Practicum Students Present Their Cyber Policy Recommendations to Department of Homeland Security

Recently, the Center for Global Affairs MS in Global Security, Conflict, and Cybercrime (MSGSCC) students in the Fall 2021 Cyber Practicum had the opportunity to design and develop solutions aligned to significant national security challenges the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is facing. They presented their findings and recommendations to the DHS Deputy Undersecretary for Policy Kelli Ann Burriesci, Deputy Director of Emerging Tech Policy Nicholas Reese, and more than 40 senior agency staff members this past December.

The practicum program, which is the result of a collaborative agreement signed between Angie Kamath, dean of NYU SPS and the DHS’s Deputy Undersecretary, is a public-private endeavor designed to enable students to conduct research and provide their assessment of cyber policy issues that the DHS has identified as having significant importance to national and global security.

Using the knowledge and skills gained throughout the MSGSCC curriculum, practicum student participants produced research to inform initiatives on transportation cybersecurity and international cyber capacity-building being undertaken by DHS. Throughout the course, students honed essential job transferable competencies in cyber policy, planning, and strategy development.

For the DHS, the students’ outside perspectives, insights, and recommendations will be evaluated to inform the Department’s efforts on cyber policy issues around transportation cybersecurity and international cyber capacity-building—priority areas identified as critical by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in a significant policy-setting speech in March of 2021.

The presentations to DHS leadership were the culmination of a semester of mentorship by the MSGSCC program director, Pano Yannakogeorgos, PhD. “Developing robust collaborations between academia and government agencies is critical to ensuring the US is leveraging talent across society to address the 21st century’s most critical security challenges,” said Yannakogeorgos, who leads the practicum. “Our students are being provided with the opportunity to offer solutions in critical areas of cyber strategy and policy, gaining the hands-on experience that prepares them for careers in government and a broad range of other sectors.

“In this most recent practicum, our students hit a home run with their presentations. Numerous industry professionals told us that the DHS team was blown away by the presentation, insights, and recommendations put forth by the students,” noted Yannakogeorgos. “In addition, the students made connections with key industry players, which can only help their future careers in the cyber.”

The students involved in the most recent practicum presentations include:

  • Valrie Russell, MSGSCC candidate at CGA
  • Asia Burrell, MSGSCC candidate at CGA
  • Amanda Tobey, MSGSCC candidate at CGA
  • Gina Sokolov, MSGA candidate at CGA
  • Mariam Khorenyan, MSGA candidate at CGA
  • Eden Chinn, an MPS candidate in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU Tisch

This practicum was the first step in a strong cooperative endeavor between DHS and CGA. The Spring 2022 practicum is already up and running with students gearing up to solve the next national security challenge DHS has requested research on: Smart Cities.

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