Sierra Futterman, a senior computer science major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, recently completed contributions to a perimeter defense product that was field-tested in New York City with NSRI senior scientists. The device detects potential biological contaminants, collects an air sample for analysis, and immediately sends an alert through software of where the threat was geolocated and when it was detected.
How has your work moved the discipline or subject area forward?
My work has moved the subject area of biological perimeter defenses forward by creating a cutting-edge solution that detects biologicals crossing the perimeter at a faster rate, delivering updates to warfighters anywhere in the world, with more information, at a fraction of the current solution's price.
What is it like to tell your friends, family and peers that you’re working on a project for the Department of Defense or federal agency?
Quite cool. Most people are surprised that this is an undergraduate opportunity, so I always enjoy telling people more about the work I do for NSRI.
What did you learn through this work?
I learned that not having worked in an area before is by no means a barrier to entry. As long as the passion and willingness to learn and work hard exists, a great product that can help others can be created.
This work has exposed me to new technologies and given me a great breadth of experiences, which have grown my ability to look at the world through many lenses by multitudes. With this I have become a better software developer, critical thinker and coworker.
How have your career plans evolved due to your work with/through NSRI?
My career plans have evolved by giving me a better understanding of what it would be like to work at or for a government agency. Now, I can make a more informed decision for where I want to go full-time when I graduate.
When you think of the grander purpose of this work do you feel a sense of patriotism? Why?
Yes. I'm proud of the work that I'm creating and of the amazing men and women I'm working to support — they are working so hard to support me and our country.
Why should other students intern through NSRI?
It's an amazing opportunity to get involved in a DOD project and understand more about what it's like to work in a government organization.