Competition Rewards STEM Scholarship in National Security

The Colorado Homeland Defense Alliance (CDHA) recently announced that it is holding its fifth annual National Security Innovation Competition (NSIC), open to submissions from undergraduate and graduate-level students from the United States and Canada.  Competitors will address a wide variety of national security issues, with past students submitting innovative projects in biometrics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s), cyber-security, infrastructure security, border security and first responder support systems.

Coming on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union address in which he called for improving math and science education, the NSIC is garnering attention from donor organizations and potential judges. Representatives from DOD, DHS, NORAD and other major government defense sectors will join executives from the Aerospace Corporation and Raytheon to choose the winners of this year’s competition, where prizes to the three top finalists should exceed last year’s record of $35,000.

Dr. Ron Scott, the competition’s program director, notes that the incentive-based competition “stimulate[s] college undergraduate and graduate student interest to address national security problem-solving by exposing their university-sponsored projects to a broad audience including industry, academic, and government organizations.”

United States students currently rank well behind their counterparts in countries such as China and Singapore on STEM subjects, and Michael Volcheff, the CEO of CDHA, stresses that “now is an important time to recognize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent within our universities and colleges.”

Innovative ideas from academia, like the ones sure to be on display in this competition, can translate into economic success and increase international competitiveness in the private sector, provided there is a healthy relationship between corporations and scientists.  As a recent RAND report highlights, “if countries are to stay ahead in their capacity to implement applications, they will need to make continuing efforts to ensure that laws, public opinion, investment in R&D, and education and literacy are drivers for, and not barriers to, technology implementation.”  Fora like the Security Innovation Network that bring innovators and private companies together have been growing over the past decade, and the continued cooperation between science and industry has the potential to greatly  impact the future competitiveness of the American defense sector.

Posted by: John Coit

Sources: National Defense University, Benzinga, Examiner, LiveScience, RAND

Photo Credit: BEST OF THE MARINE CORPS – May 2006 – Defense Visual Information Center by flickr user expertinfantry


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