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BTI Summer Homeland Security Internship for US Service Academy Cadets

The BTI Institute sponsors internships as a means to encourage academic research and pursuit in the Homeland Security Enterprise. The Institute has hosted cadets from the US Coast Guard Academy and the US Military Academy at West Point. The cadets work with ongoing research initiatives sponsored by the Institute. 

Program Year 5 (Summer 2020)


The BTI Institute hosted four cadets from the United States Coast Guard Academy from 5 July to 16 August 2020. The cadets were paired with a mentor for their research project and briefing. The cadets stayed on the University of Houston campus and conducted their research either in person or remotely. Pictured above, the cadets visited with staff from USCG Sector Houston-Galveston to gain operational perspectives from current officers within the Coast Guard.

cadet jackson t carpenter cadet erin schultz cadet oliver simon cadet s june wenzel
Cadet Jackson T. Carpenter Cadet Erin Schultz Cadet Oliver Simon Cadet S. June Wenzel

Internship Projects

carpenter_grouped_300.png Jackson T. Carpenter, Cadet 1/c, USCGA

Research Mentor: Kevin Clement, Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, University of Houston College of Technology

Project: Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attacks and Active Shooter Incidents

Focus: The project focused on after-action review (AAR) recommendations and processes that can be built based on the lessons learned from those reviews. Cadet Carpenter was involved in developing drill cards, a document that walks emergency responders through action steps based on the current emergency and conditions, such as receiving a call about a suspicious package.

“AARs allow the identification of common themes across different incidents that can provide honest, objective, and organized recommendations to improve organizational responses,” said Carpenter during his project brief.
schultz_group.png Erin Schultz, Cadet 1/c, USCGA

Research Mentor: Gary Hale, Voir Dire International, LLC

Project: ArcGIS Analysis of Migrant Caravans from the Northern Triangle Countries

Focus: The project studied the impact of U.S. and Mexico immigration policies as related to the caravan phenomenon. Migrant caravans originating in Central American countries south of Mexico were not seen before 2017. The caravans were configured as a collective, simultaneous and organized movement of thousands of people, for which the U.S. and Mexican governments were not prepared to process. The project looked to caravans as a whole, not just as individual migrant trends, and the factors that contribute to the formation of a caravan.

“We were not looking at individual push-pull factors, individual people, or why [the individual] would be immigrating to America. It was much more about the caravan and its formation,” said Schultz during her project brief.
simon_group.png Oliver Simon, Cadet 1/c, USCGA

Research Mentor: Kevin Clement, Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, University of Houston College of Technology

Project: Maritime Port Resilience

Focus: The project focused on creating a regional maritime disaster resilience action plan. While there is currently a national resilience framework, that framework lacks focus pertaining to the complexity of the maritime port. Cadet Simon conducted sixteen interviews with port directors and leadership to focus on the threats associated with maritime ports. Through those interviews, a threat list was developed that includes natural hazards (climate change, health), technological hazards (cybersecurity), and man-made threats (terrorism, funding).

“Economic competition and the majority of commerce in trade is focused on the maritime sector. With that comes trillions of dollars in trade and even the smallest incidents at a port can have a billion-dollar impact,” said Simon during his project brief.
wenzel_group.png S. June Wenzel, Cadet 1/c, USCGA

Research Mentor: Skye Cooley, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Strategic Communications, Oklahoma State University

Project: Intersecting Policy and Narrative: The Migrant Journey

Focus: The project focused on using narrative framework to inform U.S. policymakers of commonalities in the words used by national and international media to describe migration policy. By utilizing media sources from the U.S., Mexico, and Northern Triangle nations, the researchers sought to better understand the migrant narrative and its impact on policy development. Narrative themes were identified and compared across specific time periods based on U.S. immigration policy.

“The narrative policy framework can unite people’s narratives and take the subjective, qualitative data and make it into numeric, scientific information that we can actually analyze,” said Wenzel during her project brief.

In addition to their research projects, the cadets toured Space Center Houston and the NASA Johnson Space Center and other Houston attractions.