A Baltimore area high school is using homeland security as a vehicle for teaching math and other skills. I read an interesting article this morning about Meade High School’s four year program in homeland security, which teaches math and other critical thinking skills.
The obvious motivation for the program is to prepare kids for homeland security jobs down the road. Sadly, math is hardly mentioned in the article. I admire how the school seems to address homeland security issues across the spectrum, but I wonder if they might be too focused on terrorism (as evident by the quote below). Will the skills transfer to other domains?
“There’s a lot of homeland security issues in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ ” said Bill Sheppard, the program coordinator. “Like, how do you deal with infiltration in your own family?”
This made me smile–I never knew that terrorism was the central theme to Romeo and Juliet…
Although the article sidesteps math for the most part, it mentions several government agencies that hires OR, math, and engineering types. One such agency is the National Security Agency (NSA), which mainly operates out of Fort Meade close to Meade HS. The NSA is full of geeks. They have an excellent OR group, and they even have a summer internship program exclusively for OR types (Summer Program in Operations Research Technology).
Homeland security is an application area close to my own heart. I find that people love to talk to me about every time they’ve been frisked at an airport or what they think should be done to prevent the next terrorism catastrophe. Homeland security is an excellent avenue for talking about resource allocation and management as well as risk analysis, decision analysis, and game theory. One of the things on my To Do List is to create a introductory course on OR modeling using homeland security and emergency preparedness applications aimed at undergrads. I have an outline for the OR methodologies I plan to cover, but now I’m thinking about getting the right mix of application areas so students really “get it” (I won’t cover Romeo and Juliet).