In a mid-summer virtual lunch with student interns, MITRE President and CEO Dr. Jason Providakes said, “We’ve had all this bad news [this summer], but the fact that MITRE can continue an internship program is a testament to our commitment of building the future workforce and serving the public interest.” A key part of MITRE’s overall student program this past summer, which involved nearly 500 student staff members, was the Emerging Technologies Summer Student Research Program, which began in 1989, and despite the pandemic, successfully completed its 32nd summer in 2020, under the leadership of Dr. James Ellenbogen.
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The classic conception of an intern is a minion who brings people coffee, fixes printer jams, and does grunt work. The interns hired by MITRE’s Emerging Technologies Department, however, are not minions. They are student investigators charged with helping to solve overwhelming societal problems. Read profiles of four of these interns and their summer work in the public interest.
It’s no secret that change can be difficult and slow, especially when it comes to changes at work. Just this week, I heard an executive say, “Anyone who tells you that change is easy hasn’t done it before.”
Yet this year, many of us have quickly embraced virtual collaboration tools. We’ve all experienced numerous other changes, especially as we untethered from the “40 hour+ work on-site” culture. Why have we been so quick to adopt Zoom, Slack, and Office 365? What can we learn from this recent experience so that we can support our colleagues through future change?
In 2012, The Economist penned an obituary for the Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The headline: ‘RIPPP’. Eight years later however PPPs are very much alive and the appetite for them has not slowed in spite of high-profile scandals and debates about the commodification of public infrastructure.
PPPs, while diverse and increasingly complex, can most easily be thought of as a long-term contract between a public agency and a private party to execute or operate a project.
A computer scientist looks at a refugee crisis to model a pandemic.
How does that connection work exactly and why? If it appears to resemble a scenario in which a farmer learns how to plant an apple orchard by examining the supply chain for manufacturing orange juice, well, you may actually be onto something. The novel coronavirus has presented unprecedented medical, social, and economic challenges, which means that the thoughtful people responding have no choice but to innovate. However, in 2020, innovation doesn’t mean going where no one has gone before. It means harvesting everything that has come before in a disciplined way to see what might bear fruit.
I work as a DevOps Engineer. For a long time, I could not explain my career in a way that my mother could understand. She wanted to understand, but something as abstract and complex as DevOps can be hard for a lay person to grasp.
Eventually, I realized that my explanations focused only on the technical aspects of DevOps—the pipeline, automation, Infrastructure as Code—and not on the foundational principles of DevOps itself: Flow, Feedback, and Continuous Improvement. These three principles, called the Three Ways, I can explain to my mother by using her favorite hobby—baking—as a metaphor.
In designing solutions to some of the most pressing, complex, entrenched problems facing the nation, MITRE employees know they have to get creative.
And, as a company working in the public interest, we want to be sure the next generation of engineers and business leaders can address similarly formidable challenges. We want them to get creative too.
That’s why we recently deepened our partnership with James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA by bringing MITRE into the classroom.
The STEM field has been described as the great equalizer, a field that celebrates and elevates those who contribute to it. Still, many students, especially students of color, find it intimidating and hard to approach. Fortunately, individuals like Willie Hill are dedicating their time and talents to show students of all backgrounds that STEM is fun and worth getting excited about.
“Science,” “collaboration,” and “serving the best interests of the wider community” are cherished values at MITRE, as is the concept of continuous learning. At MITRE, citizen science is thus a volunteer and civic activity, a hobby, a tool for research, a source of learning, a professional and social networking opportunity, and a means of giving back to the scientific community.
At first glance, creativity might seem like the ability to make something from nothing. That isn’t actually true, but creativity does require an active imagination and the ability to judge what, among all the imagined things, might have value, given what you’re trying to accomplish. Creativity in engineering and in the arts requires the ability to generate a wide variety of ideas that relate to the goals of the effort, often the more ideas the better. Judgment is then used to evaluate the merits and flaws of each idea.
This story is the first in a series about how The MITRE Corporation tackles complex problems. This first article probes the concept of upstream thinking in the context of veteran wellness and the value of designing with people rather than for them.
Air travel has become so commonplace to the point where many of us never even think about the wonder of flying on an aircraft or being able to send things around the world over night. And yet every day, countless agencies and individuals around the world move in a coordinated ballet even in the face of a global pandemic.
Regular sources of stress in our lives can arise from challenges at work, challenges in personal life such as with partnership and parenting, and challenges from societal divisions at home and abroad, among many other factors. With one public crisis after another appearing in the news to add to what’s happening directly in our lives, these stress factors may pile on and conspire to make well-being hard to maintain.
Every year countless Americans with disabilities interact with government resources for everything from receiving benefits to registering to vote. But not all websites are created equal, and even fewer are designed with the disabled community in mind. Enter project Demodocus, a new automated approach to test websites of all kinds on how usable they really are for those who need more than just a keyboard and mouse.
On the evening of April 13, 1970, there was a loud “BAM!”, then “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
Apollo 13 had “lost” the moon because an oxygen tank explosion that wasn’t predicted caused a series of systems failures in propulsion, electrical power, and life support, and the world focused on how three isolated men over 200,000 miles from Earth would get safely home.
In November 2019, a customer of Apple Card complained when he and his wife separately applied for Apple Card credit, and his wife was given a credit limit twenty times lower than his despite the fact that they jointly owned all assets in a community property state. According to Neil Vigdor in an article in the New York Times, an Apple Card representative checked into the matter and came back with the explanation that “It was the algorithm.”
The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) has honored MITRE with its 2020 Excellence in Knowledge Management (KM) award, recognizing us as one of the top organizations in the world for our mature KM capabilities. MITRE scored a level five—the highest possible score—in most of the areas the association assessed.
As graduating seniors at Florida International University (FIU), Charlie Ramirez and Sephora Jean-Mary headed into their final semester aiming to find a real-life business problem they could solve. Their senior design capstone project was supposed to enable these two front-end developers to display what they’d already learned as computer science students.
Military members and first responders learn early in their training how to deal with stress because of the inherent danger of their occupation. Although stress certainly comes with being in harm’s way, they may also experience stress that comes with facing the unknown, time pressures, and challenging tasks.
Despite our modern world, many systems aren’t built with uncertainty in mind. Alas, these unexpected events may become the new normal. Fortunately, Imanuel has been leading the charge to re-examine how we design and implement systems with new approaches that make them more resilient to the unexpected. Listen in as we explore how his work is helping the world prepare for the next natural disaster or global pandemic.
It’s an understatement to say that we’ve all experienced a lot of change during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, some positives have come out of this situation, especially when it comes to how federal agencies and other organizations have quickly adapted to keep the government running and work moving. Organizational agility has been a goal for many years now, with numerous agency mission statements highlighting the need for it.
Agencies call on MITRE to help navigate all manner of unique challenges, but not all projects are lean enough for the innovations that agencies seek. That’s where Justin Brunelle comes in. Justin has developed a reputation as division technical integrator, helping pair trail-blazing research with government use cases.
As the Coronavirus began impacting social and professional life, I noticed a lot of friends, family, and acquaintances posting to social media that they were learning or relearning how to knit and crochet.
MITRE’s talents for strategic modernization (e.g., enterprise planning, organizational change, business innovation, technology transitioning) are informed by both our explicit knowledge and our tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is what we objectively know. Explicit knowledge can be readily articulated, codified, stored and accessed, and transmitted to others, and represents an estimated 20% of our knowledge (e.g., plans, reports, data analysis). Implicit or tacit knowledge is more subjective.
MITRE has taken on a challenge: to shape America’s future workforce and economy by alerting college students to the power of artificial intelligence (AI). That vision is now taking shape at schools across the country through an initiative known as Generation AI Nexus (Gen AI).
Rachel Mayer has grown up with medicine on the mind, but one subject has always been at the forefront: Maternal mortality. In a country as advanced and capable as the United States, why is Maternal Mortality still so high? While many public health practitioners often turn to medicinal interventions, she turned to data.
A recent discussion with colleagues on intriguing approaches and paths to innovation triggered my systems thinking habits – to explore and understand challenges systemically. What I ended up discovering were multiple dimensions of innovation, particularly for collaborative innovation.
Theodore “Turtle” Wilson has made a name for himself inspiring change. MITRE has never been short on good ideas, but getting others to embrace those ideas is always a challenge. That’s when you need to call in someone who can empathize with the folks you want to help, while seeing the big picture—someone like Turtle.
Delve into the history and meaning of risk, and you may be surprised to find that the word risk has an uncertain etymology. Depending on the domain, definitions of risk may be based on probability, danger, uncertainty, or chance.
Innovation doesn’t just happen, and it cannot be forced. It takes time, effort, and commitment to find a new path forward. Still, sometimes asking the right question can set us on that path. That is the goal of MITRE’s Open Innovation Challenge.
Every year, MITRE’s independent research and development program receives over 1000 research project ideas from across the organization and selects approximately 200 for funding. When Dr. Shelley Kirkpatrick received funding from the MITRE Innovation Program (MIP) in 2017 to research the principles of organizational agility, little did she know that three years later her work would be a big hit in Las Vegas.