Friday, June 12, 2009

Teaching High School Students To Be Intel Analysts

The Erie City Schools, in cooperation with the Institute Of Intelligence Studies here at Mercyhurst, recently announced that they would begin to offer an intelligence analyst track in one of their high school career academies.The full news article is here but there is more to this story. This is another one of Bob Heibel's visionary initiatives and it appears to me to be a natural extension of the increasing number of colleges and universities that are offering intelligence courses or even full programs. While this may sound a bit too visionary for some, let me put it into perspective. We are in the middle of a study that is trying to get at the size, in dollars and people, of the "real" intelligence community. This real community includes all the law enforcement analysts and intelligence professionals in business as well as those in the national security community. Our initial estimates indicate that there are as many analysts in the US national security community alone as there are petroleum engineers in the entire US (17,000).

Our rough estimate suggests that, when you add in all of the law enforcement, competitive intel and other analysts in the business community, the total number of intel analysts in the US doubles. This exceeds the number of chemical engineers (30,000) in the country.According to the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the chemical engineering profession, however, has nearly 150 colleges and universities feeding it qualified graduates and STEM programs have become a staple offering in virtually every high school in the country. In contrast, there are only a handful (a growing handful but still a handful...) of colleges and universities offering even introductory intel courses, much less a full four year program.Nearly 20 years ago, Bob started the Mercyhurt program based on a single insight: If the government can depend on academia to educate its entry level doctors and lawyers, engineers and architects, computer specialists and military officers, why can't it depend on academia to provide entry level education to its intelligence analysts? In this light, extending this vision to the high school level makes it seem less radical -- in fact, it looks downright logical....

Central Tech program focuses on intelStudents to learn in-demand skills

There's a world of new opportunities at Central Career and Technical School.A new intelligence technologist program beginning there this fall will prepare students for careers in demand by government, military, law enforcement and industry nationally and worldwide."The workplace is changing so rapidly that we can't keep up with it," Erie schools Superintendent Jim Barker said. "But we do know that training students to be proficient in intelligence gathering will open up a world of new job and educational opportunities."Central Tech's existing information technologies program has been retooled to emphasize intelligence gathering. Students will be trained to research issues and trends via computers and the Internet, in communications skills, in world cultures and geography, and to work as part of a team. Graduates of the four-year program will be ready for jobs working with intelligence analysts.The FBI alone has hired 540 analysts in the past year, said Robert Heibel, director of Mercyhurst College's Institute for Intelligence Studies. High school-trained technologists in time will do most of the research for those analysts."Ideally, they will work as a team," Heibel said.Mercyhurst's Institute for Intelligence Studies developed the new Central Tech program in cooperation with the Boys & Girls Club of Erie and the Erie School District. The Boys & Girls Club piloted the intelligence technologist program as a summer camp for 45 city children in 2007. The program was continued and expanded to an after-school course for Jefferson Elementary School seventh- and eighth-graders in 2008-09.Eleven students so far have enrolled in the new Central Tech program, said David Kranking, Erie School District director of career and technical education. Enrollment for 2009-10 is still open."We expect that, in time, the program will attract as many as 50 students each year," he said.Mercyhurst's Institute for Intelligence Studies will help Central Tech intelligence graduates find jobs."We have the contacts in the intelligence community to do that," Heibel said. "I guarantee that government and the military will snap these students up."Graduates alternately could go on to earn an associate degree in intelligence technology at Mercyhurst North East or a bachelor's degree in intelligence studies at Mercyhurst.Central Tech seniors and best friends Anita Brkic and Alma Mehinovic are keeping their options open. Originally enrolled in marketing at Central Tech, they switched to protective services and will take intelligence technologist courses this fall."I'm interested in CSI, and this is an opportunity to do something like that or even to work with spies and work in Washington," Brkic, 17, said."It's way out of the ordinary, and we don't want ordinary lives.