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CONTACT: Kathryn Kuhlmann, 505-844-4207,


Sandia Teams With New Mexico Universities to Offer First-of-a-Kind Security Engineering Courses

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --Tornadoes. Earthquakes. Floods. Terrorism. All four have potential to result in deadly catastrophes, yet only one is the product of human maliciousness. Anticipating and preventing tragedies caused by human intent has been a primary focus of Sandia National Laboratories’ nuclear security work for the past 30 years. Now Sandia is partnering with universities in the Southwest to develop a curriculum that will offer students formal training in security.

Sandia, New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT) in Socorro have joined forces to offer the first undergraduate curriculum in the country to focus on security engineering.

The Southwest Surety Institute was formed in June by these three organizations to provide education in security technology and to conduct security systems research and development. The Institute will focus on educating students in the methods and principles of security systems design and implementation in order to provide a pool of ready expertise to government and private industry in addressing security problems in the United States.

“The Institute represents a unique alignment of technology, education, and research and development,” says Mary Lynn Garcia of Sandia’s Security Systems and Technology Center. “This curriculum will combine elements from different disciplines -- safety, engineering, criminal justice -- in order to produce individuals who will be able to design security systems to address issues of concern to all of us -- workplace violence, terrorism and theft, for example.

“Security engineering will equip students with expertise in several areas and will allow them to apply this knowledge to designing safe work environments, sound prison operations and secure schools.”

Sandia’s experience designing and developing security technologies for Department of Energy facilities will be applied to the new program. Security experts from the Labs will lecture on various security technologies, including sensors, video assessment and display, access delay, and communications.

NMSU and NMIMT will incorporate distance learning technology, already in place at both schools, into their curriculum to maximize each other’s programs and capabilities and to electronically bring Sandia security experts into their classrooms.

NMSU plans to link its successful criminal justice and engineering technology programs to provide an academic minor in security technology, with the eventual intent of establishing an undergraduate degree in security technology. George Alexander, head of the Engineering Technology Department, says the new academic minor will be offered starting this fall. "The program combines two departments that already offer practical, hands-on approaches to their areas of study. The security technology curriculum also will be a hands-on program, with an emphasis on application rather than theory.

"The field of private and public security is a growing one," says Alexander. "People are concerned about terrorism, industrial security, and being able to safeguard people and information. Students going through this program will be credible additions to this line of work."

NMIMT, home of the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, has an active and well-respected explosives testing and development program, provides training to various government agencies in counterterrorism techniques and offers quality education to security professionals. Van Romero, director of the Center, says that the Southwest Surety Institute will enable NMIMT to begin several new initiatives, including training to first responders (fire fighters and police officers) at the scene of bombing accidents. "This training will compliment the explosives safety courses that we now offer," says Romero.

NMIMT also plans to link its explosives courses with NMSU’s criminal justice program. "This partnering will allow a criminal justice major to obtain a technical background through courses such as physics, engineering and chemistry," according to Romero. "These classes are not now part of the course work for criminal justice majors and will provide them with a necessary understanding of explosives."

Romero says the new program will enable a small school like NMIMT to reach more students who can benefit from the school’s expertise and looks forward to the increased exposure and access NMIMT will have outside the state.

Sandia's long-term goal is to develop an advanced degree program in surety at interested universities across the country. Surety, says Dennis Miyoshi, Director of Sandia's Security Systems and Technology Center, is a term applied to making something safe, secure and reliable.

"It means that a system is made to not only resist predictable and natural disasters but also those caused by malevolence," says Miyoshi. "Students trained in surety will be able to make invaluable contributions to the workplace of tomorrow. Their capabilities will address the security concerns foremost on people's minds today."

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 contact: Kathy Kuhlmann, 844-4207,

Technical contact: Mary Lynn Garcia, 505/844-2010,

NMSU contact: George Alexander, Engineering Technology Department, 505/646-2236,

NMIMT contact: Van Romero, Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, 505/835-5701,

Kathryn Kuhlmann,

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Last modified: June 12, 2001

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