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New ASU institute to research security, terrorism

Terrorism and national security are two issues that will be researched through a new initiative at ASU.

A new institute part of ASU’s Security and Defense Systems Initiative will focus not only on terrorism and homeland security, but also some irregular security issues, initiative director Werner Dahm said.

The official 18-month start-up phase began Nov. 1. During this phase, the initiative will begin the planning and basic research. After 18 months, the initiative will focus on more advanced research.

Some of the other issues explored through the initiative include weapon security, large-scale counterfeiting, internal security, border control and other securities, he said.

The program is a University-wide initiative that will directly take on the nation’s security and defense issues. This will set ASU apart from other universities, and it will be a leading academic research organization in this field, Dahm said.

The institute will be comprised of about 100 faculty and other researchers, and more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It will be a large research effort, but there will be some classes and seminars available for students as well, he said.

The initiative is not open to one specific major and it will not offer specific degrees. There needs to be a diverse group of people with different areas of expertise to allow this project to be successful, Dahm said.

“The people who come out of this, they’re not stamped with ‘security and defense,’” Dahm said. “Their degree will say something else, but they will have had a much more close connection to the broader set of things that influence security and defense.”

Technology and law majors are two of the majors that will be useful for this project, he said.

There will be between 10 and 13 buildings where the initiative will take place. However, the brunt of the work will be done at one location, he said. The specific locations have yet to be determined.

Dahm was a part of the faculty in the aerospace engineering department at Michigan University for 25 years and has been studying defense science for the past 20 years. He also worked in the Pentagon for the past two years as the chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force, he said.

He will be leading the SDSI and thinks ASU is the perfect place for the project.

“I think ASU may be uniquely suited to be able to do this,” he said.

The wide range of expertise at ASU, its location within a border state and its diverse faculty are the main reasons why he chose ASU to do this project, he said.

However, it’s not an ASU-only project. The team of researchers, faculty and students will work closely with the local aerospace industry and small entrepreneur companies, he said.

Criminal justice freshmen Brandon Johnson and Jason Kozy both think the initiative will be good for ASU and the country as a whole.

“If you up border security, it’ll help national security overall,” Kozy said.

Although the institute will focus on a wide variety of defense and security issues, Kozy and Johnson think it’s important to focus heavily on border security and terrorism.

“Terrorist organizations are getting smarter,” Johnson said. “They’re evolving and we need to be too.”

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