A Marriage of Engineering and Public Policy: USC’s Global Space and Deterrence Program Returns – USC Viterbi


The USC SHIELD Executive Program in Global Space and Deterrence kicked off September 15, 2022 at USC with its second class of senior security professionals from military, government, and industry.  (Photo/Tom Queally)

The USC SHIELD Executive Program in Global Space and Deterrence kicked off September 15, 2022 at USC with its second class of senior security professionals from military, government, and industry. (Photo/Tom Queally)

For Kenneth Michel, the military threats to the security of the world’s democracies have only intensified over the past five to ten years, particularly from ever-improving ballistic and other missiles.

That’s why Michel, an operations officer who works in the US Indo-Pacific Command’s Strategy and Policy Directorate in Honolulu, recently flew from Hawaii to Southern California to attend the inaugural session of the USC SHIELD Executive Program in Global Space and Deterrence.

On September 15-17, Michel and more than 20 other senior security professionals from the military, government and industry gathered at USC for the launch of USC SHIELD. The eight-month program aims to teach U.S. and other leaders how to address growing national security issues while bridging bureaucratic gaps between politics and new technological innovations.

Michel said he looks forward to collaborating and connecting with and learning from other security leaders.

“As someone who works in the policy department, I think it’s important to win [new] Anti-missile defense prospects,” said Michel. “That’s great [USC SHIELD] brings together many people – not just military, but also people from academia, government officials and other fields to discuss the issue of missile defense, which is particularly relevant in today’s potential conflict zones.”

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Drew Hirsekorn, an engineering director for Lockheed Martin in Morristown, New Jersey, agreed. “Working with and getting perspectives from people from different organizations who are experts in other fields would be very beneficial for me to get other ideas and tools,” said Hirsekorn, who provides ballistic missile defense capabilities to naval platforms.

Over the next few months, 23 participants from the US and Canada will participate in hybrid courses taught by professors from USC Viterbi School of Engineering and USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in partnership with the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA). You will explore topics ranging from organizational behavior to avoiding common mistakes in engineering evaluation, from the fundamentals of inventive thinking to a case study of the first interception of a long-range ballistic missile in 1961.

Two three-day sessions will be held in person at USC and one will be held in Washington DC. Site visits are also planned for Vandenberg Space Force Base and Space Systems Command at Los Angeles Space Force Base.

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As part of USC SHIELD, participants must write and present a group completion project. Upon completion of the program, students receive a USC Continuing Education Certificate.

Riki Ellison, 1983 graduate of USC Dornsife;  Founder and Chair of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA);  and three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, 1989 and 1990, played an integral role in the formation of USC SHIELD (Photo/Tom Queally)

Riki Ellison, 1983 graduate of USC Dornsife; Founder and Chair of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance (MDAA); and three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, 1989 and 1990, played an integral role in the formation of USC SHIELD (Photo/Tom Queally)

“We aim to create the leading academic community for critical thinking about a new space deterrent that is needed today,” said Riki Ellison, 1983 USC Dornsife graduate; Founder and Chairman of MDAA; and a three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, 1989 and 1990. “We strive for educational and academic excellence in an area that no one else focuses on.”

Members of this year’s class are from the US Space Force, US Space Systems Command, Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, National Guard, INDOPACOM, NORTHCOM, SPACECOM, STRATCOM, Canada, Missile Defense Agency and industry .

Frank Zerunyan, a professor of governance practice at the Price School, said the founding of USC SHIELD reflects the university’s longstanding support of the armed forces.

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“Our relationship with the US military is more than a century old,” said Zerunyan, who also serves as the director and university liaison for USC ROTC and nautical science programs. “We develop tomorrow’s leaders in our elite ROTC programs and in this program we interact with today’s leaders to improve missile defense and deterrence policy and innovation.”

Neil Siegel, IBM Professor of Engineering Management at USC Viterbi, will teach five of USC SHIELD’s 15 lectures this year, including Risk Management and Problem Solving. Siegel, a member of the National Academy of Engineering who came to USC after a long career as a vice president at Northrop Grumman, said adult education is one way the university can contribute to society.

“This kind of outreach to industry and government is part of the university’s mission,” Siegel said. “USC has had an adult education component for at least 50 years.”

USC SHIELD launched in 2021 and will be even stronger this year, said Candace House Teixeira, associate dean of corporate engagement and programs. She said feedback from the inaugural class led to the addition of courses on big data and digital technologies, among other things.

“We took feedback from our impressive first cohort and refined the program with the guidance of our faculty members and partners at the MDAA,” she said. “It is now a more mature program that continues to develop leaders in global space and deterrence. I look forward to this year’s cohort and to the future.”

Published on 09/23/2022

Last updated on September 23, 2022



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