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INI Program Prepares Lockheed Martin Intern for Summer Project

August 03, 2010

When INI student Arik Misler took notes in his Introduction to Information Security course last fall, he didn't realize the impact his coursework would have just a few months later. However, Misler has relied extensively on what he learned during his first year in the Master of Science in Information Technology - Software Management (MSIT-SM) program in order to successfully complete his summer project for Lockheed Martin.

This summer, Misler is a College Student Technical Senior Specialist for Lockheed Martin, interning in Silicon Valley. With fellow intern Bryan Thiry, an INI student in the Master of Science in Information Technology - Information Security (MSIT-IS) program, Misler is researching and developing an information warfare exercise in a simulated environment. This process includes defining all hardware and software requirements, planning administrative details, recording practices, identifying potential benefits and developing software. Lockheed Martin can then use Misler's completed exercise as a realistic training tool, as a testing ground for new products and services and as a lab for hosting various scenarios.

The opportunity to work on these types of projects initially drew Misler to Lockheed Martin, an interest that continued to grow after a new partnership developed between Lockheed Martin and the INI. Misler and Thiry were among the five INI students to receive a Cyber Security Assistanceship from Lockheed Martin, a new initiative designed to increase the number of qualified students entering the cyber workforce. The INI is one of only three U.S. graduate programs to receive Assistanceships, which provide recipients with financial assistance and the opportunity to intern with Lockheed Martin. 

"Lockheed Martin offers a wide range of projects to explore, and they were very willing to accommodate our particular skills," Misler said. "The opportunity to work in the realm of advanced concepts research and development was too good to pass up."

According to Misler, his INI coursework definitely prepared him for his internship. Based on his knowledge of the technologies and architectures in which his cyber security war game will occur, Misler is able to define specifics for the exercise and identify any security issues that must be defended. Additionally, Misler's business coursework helped him understand the potential value of his project and how to communicate its benefits to the company.

Misler's education continues to grow at Lockheed Martin. Misler has been able to experience industry operations first-hand and contribute his "ideas and knowledge to the creation of something new and exciting." He has also learned how to shape a project from start to finish and turn an open-ended idea into a full-fledged product, a task that seemed overwhleming at first. 

"But luckily, our courses at Carnegie Mellon prepared us to tackle such a hurdle, avoiding engineering pitfalls that typically hurt projects," Misler said.

As part of the MSIT-SM bicoastal program, Misler will complete his degree requirements at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley before graduating in December 2010. Misler advises the next INI class to fully take advantage of everything the INI has to offer, especially the help with internship and career searches. 

"Jennifer Burkett [, director of career services and external relations,] will become your best friend during this search, and it's a good thing she is so willing to help," Misler said. "Jennifer and the rest of the INI family put forth great effort to make sure we get the great opportunities that we do, but the motivation and drive to succeed is up to you."