Sandia National Labs

News Release

Media Relations Department

CONTACT: Kathy Kuhlmann, 505-845-4207,


May 1, 1996

A Study in School Security: Sandia Works With Belen High To Develop Security Program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- With a blueprint of Belen High School and some understanding of security technologies, more than 150 students will work together this month to design the technology layout for improving security at their school.

The activity is part of a pilot school security program between Sandia National Laboratories and Belen High. Sandia is focusing its more than 30 years experience in design and development of security technologies for Department of Energy (DOE) facilities on an increasing national concern -- school security. With input from students, teachers, parents, and the community, the pilot program gets underway May 2 at Belen High School. Students will be instructed that day on interior sensors and metal detectors; additional classes will discuss the use of video surveillance cameras and biometric devices.

"School security is an issue on everyone's mind," says Mary Green, Sandia security specialist. "The program being introduced at Belen High School is unique in several ways and has tremendous potential for application to schools throughout the country. We'd like to try to make all schools safer with the tools we have to offer."

The particular characteristics of this program? First, Sandia has applied its "systems engineering" approach to the school security question, looking at the whole picture -- vulnerabilities, problems, issues -- and is now working toward a solution based on the findings. Secondly, educating and involving students, teachers, parents, and community members is a way to ensure that those directly affected by school security measures get some say in the plan that is put in place. Lastly, leading-edge technologies with a variety of possible security applications (not yet field-tested) will be considered for this prototype program; these technologies, such as vapor detection, could benefit DOE and other government agencies.

Other partners in the school security effort are the New Mexico Citizens Crime Council, the State's departments of education and public safety, and the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).

Ron Marquez, principal at Belen High, says the pilot program comes at an opportune time, just as the school is entering into discussions about the closed campus issue. "We've also been experiencing some vandalism and theft recently," says Marquez. "This is an ideal opportunity for us to address several security issues."

The goals of the school security program are to reduce violence, theft, and drug and alcohol use, and to increase the safety of students and staff. Sandia is also giving the school a hand-held metal detector and PNM is donating exterior lighting to help meet these goals. The plan will be implemented this fall.

Sandia's Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS), a vapor detection technology, also will be tested at Belen High. The IMS is a highly-sensitive drug detecting device (to the tune of detecting one part per billion).

Sandia's school security work is being sponsored by its Education Outreach Department and Center for Nuclear Security Systems.

Sandia is a multiprogram Department of Energy laboratory, operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation. With facilities located in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national defense, energy, environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Media opportunity: Media are invited to the May 2 course on interior sensors and metal detectors at Belen High School, from 8 a.m. - 9 a.m. The course will be taught by Sandia security experts and will include demonstrations of these technologies. Approximately 80 students are expected to participate. Parents and community leaders have been invited. Call 844-4207 for additional information and to make arrangements to attend.

Kathy Kuhlmann,
Back to top of page || Questions and Comments || Privacy and Security

Last modified: June 12, 2001

Sandia National Laboratories is operated by Lockheed Martin Corp. for the U.S. Department of Energy.