MITRE Staff Cultivates Los Angeles' Science Ecosystem

As part of MITRE's effort to nurture new expertise to help solve problems for a safer world, employees at MITRE's Los Angeles (LA) site are helping grow the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) ecosystem in southern California. Many of their efforts focus on the region's universities.

This spring, MITRE LA's Erica Lindy and Renee Yazdi were guest judges at the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi engineering school's Senior Design Expo. What motivated them to take time from their busy work schedules to do this? "It's important because MITRE is committed to promoting the growth of our next generation engineers at the universities," explains Lindy, who is co-department head for MITRE's Space and Spectrum Superiority Program. "These are ways we can give back and MITRE is a great company that supports doing that."

At the expo, seniors show off their capstone class accomplishments. "We were judging, but we also tried to give the seniors advice on how to try things differently, to stretch and grow them," Lindy says. "Some of the projects had applications to space, but not all students realized that until we pointed it out," notes Yazdi, who is the Global Positioning System portfolio manager.

Lindy has also reached out to recruit for MITRE in various ways, such as at the Los Angeles chapter of "Out in Tech," which forges ties between the LGBTQ and tech communities, and in women-focused conferences for groups such as "Girls Can Code."

Developing Educational Opportunities

MITRE cybersecurity engineer Tony Magorno was invited to California State University, Fullerton's Security Day, to talk about security issues that computer systems face.

"My motivation is to encourage cybersecurity and systems engineering in undergraduate programs," he says. "We help create awareness of these fields and recruit interns for MITRE."

Magorno is also director of education for the INCOSE-LA Chapter, one of the largest chapters of the International Council of Systems Engineering. He develops educational opportunities and supports local and regional conferences. "I leverage MITRE knowledge to benefit the chapter, which also expands and improves the systems engineering profession."

Bringing Rust to California State University, San Bernardino

After senior cybersecurity engineer Andrew Lilley Brinker graduated from California State University, San Bernardino, and joined MITRE in 2015, a former professor asked him to teach a programming language class while they interviewed for more faculty.

"I said 'yes,' and taught two quarters of the programming language class," Lilley Brinker recalls. One of the changes he made to the class was introducing the Rust open-source programming language.

Why Rust? "Rust is really interesting technology," he says. "It offers the level of performance you would expect from C++, but with greater security.

"Computer science programs often don't do a great job of teaching security," Lilley Brinker continues. "Developers are trusted with data that people want safeguarded, but they don't have the ideal security knowledge."

Lilley Brinker has spoken at two Rust Conferences, including RustConf 2017.

"What I find is that we really do value partnership," Lindy says of MITRE LA's outreach efforts. "We know it's hard work, but if you take pride in nurturing partnerships and collaboration, it's also fun work—and rewarding for the community."

—by Jim Chido