The Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute participated in the COE Summit 2019 in Arlington, VA, on July 30 - August 1, 2019. This year's summit was themed, "Homeland Security Challenges: Evolving Threats and Dynamic Solutions," and involved plenary panels and keynote speakers, a student grand challenge and poster competition, and a showcase.
The COE Summit is sponsored by the national network of university-led U.S. Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence. The COE network is an extended consortium of hundreds of universities conducting research and education to address a host of priority homeland security challenges.
The BTI Institute co-developed a track involving Gray Zone threats in which experts discussed the 'who' and the 'what' of the threats within those areas in which both traditional state actors and non-state actors target the nation’s security in non-traditional ways, typically falling just short of conventional military conflict.
Three students representing projects within the BTI Institute participated in the grand challenge and poster competition: Ha Le, Ph.D. candidate from the University of Houston; Keshav Kasichainula, Ph.D. student from the University of Houston; and Nicholas Randol, graduate student from the University of the Incarnate Word. For the poster competition, students had to discuss their projects with a series of judges who assessed the students' ability to articulate the science behind the project as well as the presentation of the poster display. For the Grand Challenge, students teamed up from across the COEs to develop a solution to counter possible threats to the homeland from Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles.
Ha Le received first place overall in the poster competition for his poster on "EDGE: The 'Eye in the Woods' Image-based Face Detection and Recognition System." His grand challenge team received second place, "Drone-based MIR Laser Induced Thermal Imaging for Identification of Chemical Substances."
Keshav Kasichainula's grand challenge team received first place for their "Automated Drone Integrated Information System."
Additionally, the Institute team presented current and past research initiatives as part of the Innovation Showcase. Randy Capps, Ph.D., Migration Policy Institute, presented his previous project, "Sustainable Reintegration: Strategies to Support Migrants Returning to Mexico and Central America."
Highlights included a visit to the booth by William Bryan, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Undersecretary of Science and Technology, and Anthony Ambler, Director of BTI and Dean of the College of Technology at the University of Houston, giving an interview to discuss the initiatives of the Institute.