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The BTI Institute sponsors interns as a means to encourage academic pursuit in the Homeland Security Enterprise. 

Summer Academy Internships

The BTI Institute hosts cadets from the Coast Guard Academy and the United States Military Academy at West Point. The cadets work with ongoing research projects sponsored by the Institute. 

In Program Year 4 (summer 2019), the Institute hosted one cadet from USMA. 

Cadet Sarah Donaldson, United States Military Academy at West Point, worked with Weidong "Larry" Shi, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Houston, and Chris Bronk, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Houston, on an overview of cybersecurity. 


Cadet Sarah Donaldson, an incoming Junior at the United States Military Academy at West Point, spent three weeks studying cryptocurrencies and cybersecurity as part of the BTI Institute 2019 Homeland Security Summer Internship. Cadet Donaldson is a psychology major, minoring in cybersecurity, and desires to commission as a cybersecurity officer in the U.S. Army upon graduation.

Cadet Donaldson conducted a literature review guided by Chris Bronk, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, and Weidong "Larry" Shi, Ph.D., Associate Professor. 

Cadet Donaldson's first literature review focused on cryptocurrency and the illicit use within the digital marketplace. 

"About 44% of Bitcoin transactions are illegal," said Cadet Donaldson, "including money laundering and drug trafficking."

She also discussed the complexity of attempted regulations. 

"Cryptocurrency has no borders," said Cadet Donaldson. "Because it is so international, every government would have to agree on the level and type of regulation."

Cadet Donaldson's second literature review focused on the overall concerns involving cybersecurity.

"It is sometimes difficult for policymakers to understand the complexity of cyber," said Cadet Donaldson. "It can be just as difficult for those that understand cyber to articulate what is required to properly regulate."

Cadet Donaldson discussed the Department of Defense's efforts to modernize its cyber capabilities, including defining cyberspace as its "fifth domain" in line with land, sea, air, and space. 

While staying at the University of Houston, Cadet Donaldson also had the opportunity to take a campus tour.

Cadet Donaldson will return to West Point to continue her career towards becoming the United States next cyber leader. 



In Program Year 3 (Summer 2018), the Institute hosted three cadets from the Coast Guard Academy and one from USMA. 


Cadet Emiliano Gonzalez, from the United States Military Academy, and Cadets William Boardman, Kyla Hughley, and Matthew Nagle, from the United States Coast Guard Academy, conducted literature review research and developed applicable planning products in support of a regional response to a Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack workshop series. Each cadet was assigned to a different aspect of a regional response including emergency medical services, intelligence or victim support. 

Additionally, the cadets researched current institutions that provide certification, undergraduate or graduate-level degrees in the area of border studies to help the BTI Institute enhance our border studies education and workforce development efforts. Finally, the cadets supported the Institute's customer discovery and outreach efforts by researching and building executive read files that included biographies, press releases and congressional testimonies on the Department of Homeland Security leadership.

Though there was plenty of work, there was also time to benefit from what the Houston area has to offer. In addition to enjoying local cuisine, the cadets participated in a guided tour of the NASA Johnson Space Center, the Port of Houston, and the U.S. Coast Guard Sector - Houston. 

"There was a lot of tasks that kept us busy but we also had the time to enjoy Houston," said Hughley. 

The Homeland Security Summer Internship is intended to familiarize future leaders in the Homeland Security and National Security space with the breadth of operational needs and research opportunities available. 

The cadets' final presentations are here:

Gonzalez Boardman Hughley Nagle