CEHC Capstone Partners Students with New York City Emergency Management
ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 25, 2022) – A capstone course offered through the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) last semester gave students a real-world glimpse of how New York City prepares for and responds to cyber attacks.
CEHC adjunct professor Jayson Kratoville partnered students with New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) for a semester-long project to help prepare for its annual citywide continuity of operations (COOP) virtual conference in December 2021.
The COOP conference theme was cybersecurity preparedness. Representatives from 46 City agencies collaborated on strategies to mitigate the impacts of increasingly frequent and complex cyber disruptions on essential service delivery.
Throughout the semester, CEHC students developed and honed case studies on the impacts of past cybersecurity attacks. They were included in the participant packet to highlight the cascading effects of technology disruption on municipal operations. Students were also invited to earn credit toward CEHC’s 100-hour training requirement by serving on NYCEM’s team during the conference, directly contributing to evaluation and improvement planning.
“This course empowers students to take everything they’re learning in the classroom and help drive change in the field,” said Kratoville, an emergency management professional and 2011 alumnus of Rockefeller College’s MPA program. “We treated NYCEM as our client, giving students a realistic experience managing professional projects and relationships in emergency preparedness and cybersecurity.”
“The citywide COOP conference presented a fantastic opportunity to engage UAlbany students on the interplay among COOP, cybersecurity, and emergency management, a high priority for municipalities across the nation” added Cyndi Mellen, NYCEM’s Continuity of Operations director and 2012 alumna of Rockefeller College’s MPA program. “These are future leaders in the field who rose to the challenge, delving into the materials and broader context.”
Cybersecurity Preparedness Training
Through the capstone course, students worked together to research large-scale cyber incidents – in Atlanta, Baltimore and New Orleans – that had impacts on city agencies and their services.
The teams shared case studies prior to the COOP conference to a panel of cybersecurity experts who provided feedback and recommendations, including:
- Cyndi Mellen, NYCEM COOP director
- Clint Mixon, NYC Cyber Command (NYC3) deputy chief of strategy
- Jonathan Rotta, NYC3 Cyber COOP Supervisor
- Ben Spear, NYS Board of Elections chief information security officer (CISO)
- David Turetsky, CEHC professor of practice
- Brian Nussbaum, CEHC assistant professor
Among the students in the course was Brittany Bordeaux, a senior Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity major with a minor in Informatics. Following a career in nursing, she returned to college to pursue a degree in cybersecurity.
“I thought this class was an amazing experience,” said Bordeaux, a native of Newburgh Junction, N.Y., who also runs an e-commerce business. “A lot of our work in cybersecurity is behind the computer, inputting commands and learning how to best protect online networks and devices. I tend to forget about the importance of the human aspect. Partnering with NYCEM helped me see the whole picture and made me excited about my future.”
Omar Mohammad, a senior Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity major, is also a non-traditional student, previously earning two undergraduate biology degrees, including one at UAlbany. He hopes to blend both disciplines through a future career in emergency management planning.
“Cybersecurity is not just limited to IT departments,” said Mohammad, a current biotech specialist at Regeneron and native of Iraq. “Partnering with NYCEM really opened my eyes to the wide range of professional opportunities that are available to me with my background and expertise.”
CEHC offers several capstones each semester, pairing students with the College’s industry-leading experts to support the needs of a real-world client. This focus on experiential learning provides skills, experiences and relationships that are critical to success in the emergency preparedness, homeland security and cybersecurity fields.