Information Technology Security at Plum Island Animal Disease Center
Since he was a child, Harold Cosme Torres has been interested in information technology (IT). He attended a vocational high school to study IT and industrial electronics. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in network and telecommunication with a specialty in IT security, Cosme took the opportunity to advance his career through an internship.
Cosme traveled from his home institution, the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, to Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York to join the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) HS-STEM Summer Internship Program.
The program provides undergraduates and graduates who major in homeland security-related science, technology, engineering and mathematics (HS-STEM) disciplines an opportunity to conduct research at federal facilities across the United States.
Under the mentorship of Frank Cortese, an information technology specialist, Cosme focused on technology and programs employed by PIADC.
Cosme’s research focused on identifying security measures for an application undergoing development related to laboratory animal records. His work contributed to high security measures that are kept by PIADC regarding data confidentiality, availability and integrity. He created lectures on PIADC manuals and procedures that are needed to implement the security controls on the application.
During his internship, Cosme gained new skills and knowledge in risk management, security evaluation and contingency plans. Also, he toured facilities at PIADC, including areas related to cybersecurity.
“The entire experience allowed me growth in my professional career. It helped me improve my skills in more ways than I could have imagined,” said Cosme.
The most constructive part of his internship was “the exposure to a real work environment, real decision making and continuous flow work to ensure the mission of PIADC,” Cosme commented. “This program exceeded my expectations. The work environment at PIADC is not only impressive because of the amazing work they do, but it is warm and welcoming. I feel that instead of co-workers, I have something like a family.”
Cosme returned to finish his bachelor’s degree at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus. Following graduation, Cosme plans to pursue a position in the information technology security field. Reflecting on his experience, he said, “Opportunities like this are life changing because you get exposed to new areas and experiences. This internship has taught me so much beyond what any textbook could [teach].”
The DHS HS-STEM Program is funded by DHS and administered through the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). ORISE is managed for DOE by Oak Ridge Associated Universities.