IST Intern Updates Military War Game For National Strategic Research Institute
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Few students have the opportunity to have a direct impact on national security. But last summer, the Army ROTC and College of Information Science and Technology (IST) junior Hayden Maxwell traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, to take up a position that aims to provide security and preparation of the United States against increasingly sophisticated threats.
Maxwell’s internship was sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, but he works specifically for the Advanced Research Center for Strategic Deterrence at the National Institute for Strategic Research.
“Army ROTC offered a long list of potential internship opportunities and I ranked this as my top pick,” he said. “I believe I was chosen because I am able to give a military opinion on matters given my position as a cadet. My specialty, safety and risk analysis, also aligns closely with this line of work.
Over the summer, Maxwell and other interns updated a military war game focused on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The game, created by the director of research for nuclear programs at the National Institute for Strategic Research at the University of Nebraska, the research center affiliated with the University of the US Strategic Command, was originally an exercise in simulation of limited nuclear conflict. But Maxwell and his team were tasked with updating the game to the current level of conflict, as well as putting it on a web platform that can be played by military officials and academic audiences.
“Our research was largely focused on the nuclear arsenal of Russia, Ukraine and the United States,” he said. “We also had to create academic resources for a non-professional audience so that they could understand and play the game.”
Everything from current military assets to political states and economics has been studied on an unclassified level. This information has been used to update the professional military war game which has been pushed to an online format.
“I may never have the opportunity to tell someone as high as him about my military career again,” said Maxwell.
He started this internship with a basic knowledge of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons through introductory security risk analysis courses with Bill Parquette, a practice professor at the College of IST. Throughout his time at the College of IST, Maxwell has worked in various group projects that have provided him with teamwork experience while completing his internship, and he looks forward to developing these skills as he pursues his diploma and other professional experiences.
“I gained confidence and skills in public speaking,” he said. “Having to brief high-ranking men and women in this area of nuclear weapons can be intimidating, but this internship challenged me to do weekly briefings. I have already seen improvements in my speaking skills.
Upon graduation, Maxwell will be enlisted in the United States military and plans to continue working in the government sector after completing military service. His internship uniquely prepared him for his future goals, as it allowed him to work for and with senior military leaders while developing professional and briefing skills. He says this internship has given him valuable experience, exposure and connections in this area.
“Many of the men and women I have met have served or are currently serving and have given me a lot of advice on how to transition from military work to government work,” he said. “I spoke with people who had varied backgrounds, specializations and lifestyles which allowed me to forge many relationships to open the door to a future with the government.”