With colleges and universities studying border security, there are greater opportunities to involve them in finding solutions and articulating the comprehensive approach that many say is missing. The private sector also is a rich source of expertise to build a long-term border security blueprint that is comprehensive yet flexible to changing conditions on the ground.
Texas A&M University professor Don Phillips, who coordinates his engineering department’s homeland security research, says that if he had been in charge when DHS awarded the SBInet contract, “I would have said, ‘Look, DHS and Boeing, this is not today’s problem. This is everybody’s problem for 100 years. We have got to craft an enduring, innovative research capability that will continuously address and improve border security.’” That capability, Phillips says, must examine short-term as well as long-term solutions and draw on experienced college faculty and students.
“The DHS and Boeing must find a way to engage the best minds in industry and academia to address important, ongoing border and immigration security needs,” Phillips concludes. “We need to find a way to get two or three universities directly involved with SBInet on a long-term basis; train faculty members to deal with this problem; and develop an interactive research program where these problems can be jointly addressed by the best brainpower in this country. It is also obvious that to create an enduring, knowledgeable body of scientists and engineers, joint academic coursework and training programs need to accompany scientific inquiry.”
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