A Marriage of Engineering and Public Policy: Return of USC’s Global Space and Deterrence Program – USC Viterbi

The USC SHIELD Executive Program in Global Space and Deterrence began at USC on September 15, 2022 with its second class of senior military, government, and industry security experts. (Photo/Tom Queally)

For Kenneth Michel, military threats to the security of the world’s democracies have only intensified over the past five to ten years, particularly from ever-improving ballistic and other missiles.

That’s why Michel, an operations officer who works in the US Indo-Pacific Command’s Strategy and Policy Directorate in Honolulu, recently flew from Hawaii to Southern California to participate in the training session. opening of the USC SHIELD Executive Program on Global Space and Deterrence.

From September 15-17, Michel and more than 20 other top military, government, and industry experts gathered at USC for the launch of USC SHIELD. The eight-month program aims to teach U.S. leaders and others to understand how to tackle growing national security issues while bridging bureaucratic gaps between politics and new technical innovations.

Michel said he looks forward to collaborating and connecting with other leaders on security issues and learning from them.

“As someone who works in the policy store, I think it’s important to acquire [new] perspectives on missile defense,” said Michel. “That’s great [USC SHIELD] brings together a lot of people – not just the military, but academics, members of government and other fields to discuss the problem of missile defense, which is particularly relevant in today’s times given potential conflict zones.

Drew Hirsekorn, technical director of Lockheed Martin based in Morristown, New Jersey, agreed. “Collaborating with and getting insights from people from different organizations, who are experts in other areas, would be very beneficial for me to have different ideas and tools,” said Hirsekorn, who provides a capacity for ballistic missile defense to naval platforms.

Over the next few months, 23 participants from the United States and Canada will take blended courses taught by faculty from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, in partnership with Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA). They will explore topics ranging from organizational behavior to how to avoid common mistakes in engineering assessment, from the essentials of inventive thinking to a case study of the first interception of a long-range ballistic missile in 1961. .

Two three-day sessions will be held in person at USC and one will be held in Washington D.C. Additionally, site visits are planned for Vandenberg Space Force Base and Space Systems Command at the Force Base Los Angeles Space.

As part of USC SHIELD, participants must write and present a group capstone project. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a USC Continuing Education Certificate.

Riki Ellison, who graduated from USC Dornsife in 1983;  Founder and Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA);  and three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, 1989 and 1990, played a vital role in the creation of USC SHIELD (Photo/Tom Queally)

Riki Ellison, who graduated from USC Dornsife in 1983; Founder and Chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA); and three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, 1989 and 1990, played a vital role in the creation of USC SHIELD (Photo/Tom Queally)

“We want to create the cutting-edge academic community in the critical thinking of a new deterrent in space that is needed today,” said Riki Ellison, a 1983 USC Dornsife graduate; founder and president of MDAA; and three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, 1989, and 1990. “We strive for educational and academic excellence in an area no one else focuses on.”

Members of this year’s class are drawn from the US Space Force, US Space Systems Command, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, INDOPACOM, NORTHCOM, SPACECOM, STRATCOM, Canada, Missile Defense Agency and industry.

Frank Zerunyan, professor of governance practice at the Price School, said the creation of USC SHIELD reflects the university’s longstanding support of the armed forces.

“Our relationship with the US military goes back more than a century,” said Zerunyan, who is also a director and academic liaison for USC ROTC and nautical science programs. “We develop the leaders of tomorrow in our elite ROTC programs and, in this program, interact with the leaders of today to improve missile defense and deterrence policy and innovation.”

Neil Siegel, IBM Professor of Engineering Management at USC Viterbi, will teach five of USC SHIELD’s 15 lectures this year, including risk management and problem solving. Siegel, a member of the National Academy of Engineering who came to USC after a long career as a vice president at Northrop Grumman, said adult learning is one way the university can help the society.

“That kind of industry and government outreach is part of the university’s mission,” Siegel said. “USC has had an adult education component for at least 50 years.”

Launching in 2021, USC SHIELD will be even stronger this year, said Candace House Teixeira, associate dean of corporate engagement and programs. She said feedback from the inaugural class led to the addition of lessons on big data and digital technologies, among other topics.

“We took feedback from our impressive first cohort and refined the program with leadership from our faculty members and partners at MDAA,” she said. “It is now a more mature program that continues to develop leaders in the field of global space and deterrence. I am thrilled for this year’s cohort and for the future.

Posted on September 23, 2022

Last updated September 23, 2022

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