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NEWS | Aug. 29, 2017

Internship allows UTSA students to lend computer knowledge to 470th MIB

By David DeKunder 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Four University of Texas at San Antonio students who interned this summer with the Army 470th Military Intelligence Brigade at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston lent their computer science knowledge to help the unit improve its intelligence gathering capabilities.

The UTSA students participated in a pilot internship program at the 470th MIB from May 31 to Aug. 10, working within the brigade’s Open Source Intelligence section in day-to-day operations and software development. The interns were Christian Wilson, Jonah Waschek, Jonathan Jimenez and Wellington Rodrigues, all senior students from the UTSA computer science department.

Wilson said the internship allowed him and the other students to put their computer science skills to use for the benefit of the intelligence brigade.

“We are writing software programs to make the jobs of Soldiers who are in intelligence gathering easier,” Wilson said.

Wilson said his interest in participating in the pilot internship program started when his instructor in his cyber law and ethics course at UTSA, Brett O’Brien, told him about it last fall. O’Brien, the former attorney for the 470th MIB, helped to get the internship program started.

He said the internship was a good opportunity to get into another career field while helping people with his expertise and knowledge in computer science. Because of the internship, Wilson said he is considering a career in the Military Intelligence Civilian Excepted Career Program, or MICEP, a program that allows civilians to work in various Army intelligence and counterintelligence operations.

“I didn’t have really much of a plan of what I was going to do when I graduated from college and then this internship gave me a plan more structured than I had before,” Wilson said.

Waschek said participating in the internship gave him the chance to work in a professional setting.

“It’s just been getting out and meeting new people and learning the customs and courtesies of the military,” he said. “Every aspect of it I’ve enjoyed.”

Working in a military intelligence environment is different than what is being portrayed in the media, particularly on TV shows, said Waschek.

“I’ve learned at least in the Army it’s much more controlled and that they can’t just do whatever they want,” he said. “There is actual causes and processes to follow. They just don’t seem to say it too much in the media outside the military. They paint an inaccurate picture.”

Since the internship was his first time in a military environment, Jimenez said he liked being around and talking to service members and getting familiar with their ranks and duties. Also, he learned more about areas of computer science including data bases, data mining and data manipulation.

Jimenez said one of his favorite things about interning at the 470th MIB was getting the opportunity to try the Engagement Skills Trainer, or EST, a simulator that provides training for Soldiers in marksmanship and firearms training skills.

Because of the experience he gained through the internship, Jimenez said he wants to pursue a career in military intelligence through the Military Intelligence Civilian Excepted Career Program (MICEP), a program that allows civilians to work in various Army intelligence and counterintelligence operations.

“I didn’t have any interest in cybersecurity before, it was always software engineering,” Jimenez said. Now being here at the 470th MIB, it’s really interesting and I do want to be a part of it.”

Rodrigues, a cadet in the ROTC program at UTSA, said his stay at the 470th MIB will help further his career goal of working in the Army cyber warfare branch.

“I got exposed to the military intelligence community and learned new tools, techniques and procedures to analyzing data in support of investigations,” Rodrigues said.

All four students were selected for the internships from a competitive interview process by the UTSA computer science department.

Monica Yoas, 470th MIB public affairs officer, said the pilot internship program is starting with a small group of students with the goal adding more UTSA students in future semesters.