Professor Bill Lee discusses a new Security & Resilience MSc encouraging STEM graduates to develop skills addressing the world of national security.
STEM graduates and professionals can now apply for a place on the College’s newest MSc developed by the ISST (Institute for Security Science and Technology), Imperial’s world-leading hub for security research and engagement. The course will be taught by academic experts who undertake cutting edge research and innovation, and have extensive experience of advising governments and industry. Students will be exposed to how science and technology informs policy, and will have contact with experts working on current day security and resilience challenges.
The course has been designed with input from potential employers, and will equip students with skills that are in demand across academia, industry and the policy sector. Students with entrepreneurial ambitions will also gain from the course, giving them the opportunity to explore new ideas and learn from start-up experts.
Murray Mackay asked Professor Lee, Co-Director of the ISST, what benefits the course would bring students and the wider world.
Compared to climate change, security is perhaps a lesser-known global challenge. What environment do STEM graduates face when they head into the workplace in 2018?
While the general public may be less aware of security than say climate change, its profile rises significantly after specific events such as the recent chemical nerve agent attack in Salisbury, and the impact of last year’s ransom-ware cyber attack on the National Health Service.
STEM graduates increasingly need to demonstrate breadth across disciplines, as well as depth in their core subject. They also need to understand the impact of their work, and how science and technology are essential to policy and enterprise. These points are especially true in security and resilience, where threats often require working in multidisciplinary teams, and there are many non-technical stakeholders.
Is this course a response to the needs of industry and government?
Yes. The range of threats is increasing, be they natural or man-made. As a country we need to be prepared for current threats but also ahead of the game for the next generation of attack. Factors such as geo-political uncertainties, climate change, plus evolving cyber and physical attacks are changing the security landscape. Combatting these threats requires an interdisciplinary approach from research teams that combine different skillsets, such as those of engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, chemists, physicists & psychologists.
There is increasing reliance on cyber-based platforms across all sectors of society, with increasing connectedness. The ability to mine and execute responses to data is increasing as well. Factors such as these indicate the need for an increasing cadre of skilled, objectively-trained, personnel capable of applying their skills across the security and resilience sector.
Being aware of threats, and able to mitigate them, are increasingly desirable skills.
Imperial graduates are renowned for their entrepreneurialism and ambition. Many will be in leadership and innovation roles in government institutions or prominent industries. If you had one quick tip that would help them assess and act on security risks, what would it be?
Either sign up for the MSc in Security and Resilience at Imperial or ensure that one of your team has! It will give them the vision to see the risks and the skills to address them (or a contact who can).
What is Imperial’s security expertise? Why are we so well-placed to deliver this course?
The ISST was founded in 2008 by Sir Keith O’Nions (who was Rector of Imperial from 2010-13) so we are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. Sir Keith realised the need for increasing links between universities and the security sector, particularly in science and technology. Over the last decade the ISST has not only worked closely with government but also coordinated the ever expanding and increasingly diverse field of security science across College. We have world-leading expertise in security in sectors ranging from transport to nuclear to finance, in fields such as cyber, data analytics, physical protection and defence against CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive) threats.
There is rising demand from UK industry and government for scientists and engineers with broad knowledge of security, a global vision and a network of contacts. Our experience of working at the cutting edge of research with industry and government agencies will enable us to deliver MSc graduates who can meet this demand.
What would you say to someone if they were keen to apply but needed convincing?
This course is truly unique in its content and in that it is being aimed at the STEM graduate who would benefit from broadening their career portfolio. It will enable them to meet critical programme needs in industry and government, and so expand their career opportunities. Although programmes in security studies exist at other institutions in the UK, and foreign policy and national security programmes at institutions in the USA, no such programme, focusing on security and resilience catering specifically to STEM students exists elsewhere.