Posted by Jean Gordon Cook
(JACKSON, Miss.) – Jackson State University civil engineering students Fatima Diop and Yulian Kebede recently completed the Summer Research Institute (SRI), sponsored by the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR) at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J.
“I’m studying civil engineering and am interested in transportation, and my advisor thought I should get involved with maritime,” said Diop, a senior at JSU. “Now I’m considering maritime for graduate school. The SRI has been a great experience and I’m looking forward to utilizing what I’ve learned here in my career.”
Diop and Kebede were among the 21 students who participated in the CSR’s second annual eight-week intensive summer research program. The students represent eight universities including Stevens Institute of Technology, Jackson State University, Norfolk State University, Rutgers University, State University of New York-Binghamton, University of Hawaii, University of Miami, and the University of Puerto Rico.
The maritime security-focused program was led by a team of CSR researchers and educators and ran this year from June 6 to July 29. Student participants were organized into two research teams, and each team was given the collective challenge of utilizing sensor technologies and plume modeling forecasts to assess the potential impacts of a radiological dispersion and oil spill in the New York Harbor.
This fictitious scenario suddenly became real on July 20, when there was a sewage spill in the Hudson River, which runs between New York and New Jersey. The teams were able to use what they had learned to actively assist in a report produced by experts from Stevens Tech that was utilized by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.
Students also produced a website called Magello to monitor all types of maritime and environmental effects.
“We took publicly available information from a bunch of different places and rolled it into one, easy-to-use platform,” said Andrew Orvieto, a graduate student in product architecture at Stevens Tech. “Local residents to the Department of Homeland Security can use it.”
The SRI also provided students the unique opportunity to collaborate with CSR researchers and with each other to conduct hands-on research in the field and in the university’s Maritime Security Laboratory. Students also engaged in highly relevant lectures by homeland security experts and maritime industry representatives.
This summer’s guest speakers included Dana Goward, Director of Marine Transportation Systems Management, U.S. Coast Guard; Nick Pera, U.S. Navy Chief Systems Engineer; Richard Larrabee (Ret. Adm.), Director of Port Commerce, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and Jeanne Lin, Deputy Director, Borders and Maritime Security Division at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.
“It was a tremendous honor to have Fatima and Yulian participate in our summer research program,” said CSR education director Beth Austin DeFares. “They are exceptional students and outstanding ambassadors for Jackson State University. Each contributed greatly to the research outcomes and success of the program, and we hope that you will continue to send many more students like them to the CSR Summer Research Institute.”