First Maritime Systems Fellowship Graduate Works to Deter Terrorist Threats

12/10/2012

As the very first graduate of Stevens’ Maritime Systems Fellowship program, Brandon Gorton ’12 (M.S. in Maritime Systems and Maritime Security) has spent the past two years growing technically proficient, internationally sensitive and knowledgeable of emerging threats to critical global infrastructure.

Now, this talented young alumnus is putting those skills to the test as a Global Threat Reduction Specialist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington, where he is working on protecting the nation from terrorist acts.

A core objective of the PNNL is to use applied research in information analysis and cybersecurity to prevent acts of terrorism domestically and internationally. Gorton’s role is to conduct security assessments and vulnerability analyses to determine security enhancement recommendations to secure nuclear and radiological materials, and to support technically complex, internationally critical domestic and international defense and nuclear nonproliferation projects.

“The national and homeland security domain is continuously evolving and presents an unforeseen plethora of challenges,” Gorton said. “Integrity, diligence and innovation are traits that much be given the highest priority.”

Gorton was raised on the “sandy shores of Lake Michigan” and earned his B.S. in Engineering Management Technology from Western Michigan University in 2010. During his final semester at WMU, the high-honors student completed a Department of Homeland Security – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics internship at the Savannah River National Laboratory, where he conducted research to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement’s monitoring of waterways for nuclear and radiological materials, which confirmed his interest in a career in maritime security.

Soon after, Gorton was accepted to Stevens’ highly-competitive Maritime Systems Fellowship program, a collaboration of Stevens and the Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce (CSR) to provide full-tuition support for top students seeking technical leadership positions in the maritime domain.

“As soon as I got word I had been awarded the position, I immediately began packing!” Gorton said.

In addition to completing his required coursework and supporting CSR research projects on the Hudson River, through the fellowship program Gorton also participated in the CSR’s Summer Research Institute (SRI), in which he served as student team leader for a group of international port security researchers focused on near shore and long range detection technologies, threat assessment and decision support.

As a requirement of the program, he also completed a summer internship at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Rhode Island, where he conducted research to characterize and protect from emerging underwater threats.

To wrap up the program, Gorton wrote his master’s thesis on forecasting underwater threat detection in estuarine environments.

Each aspect of the fellowship program was critical in supporting Gorton’s career development in maritime security and preparing him to meet his charge at PNNL to keep the nation safe from terrorists.

“The fellowship program’s unique combination of classroom instruction and experimental data collection through field work – plus its focus on innovation – especially stood out for me,” Gorton said. “I was able to hone both my technical understanding and my leadership capabilities.”

In the long-term, Gorton hopes to advance his career in homeland security and lead a team of industry practictioners in addressing current and future threats.

“If given the opportunity, it would be my honor to provide the direction for this effort," Gorton said.