A rigorous foundation for security engineering programs

Bradley Rogers, Dale Palmgren, Albert McHenry, Scott Danielson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Security may be defined as the protection of an asset from a malevolent human attack. The development of a security system capable of preventing successful attacks requires integration of human resources, technologies, and policies and procedures. Therefore, the development of a security system to protect high value assets can be described as a complex systems engineering problem. In practice, however, security systems engineering presents challenges not normally faced in more traditional systems engineering problems. For example, the talent necessary to develop effective systems requires the assembly of teams of experts from very diverse fields, ranging from mathematicians to specialists in languages and cultures. In addition, security systems must be capable of continuous and rapid evolution to respond to changing scenarios caused by new and evolving threats. A systems engineering methodology developed and tested at the United States' national laboratories over the last forty years, known as the Sandia methodology, effectively addresses the unique aspects of security system development and evaluation. ASU has developed a curriculum leading to a Master of Science degree focused on security systems and engineering and, in the process, faced many challenges. The experience demonstrates that a rigorous methodology, such as the Sandia methodology, can successfully form the foundation of a system engineering curriculum focused on security engineering education. In addition, such programs offer students an option for a scientifically rigorous education in the field, in contrast to the more typical criminal justice or policy-oriented approaches used in most educational programs focused on homeland security. This paper explains the Sandia methodology, briefly describes the courses developed, the types of master's projects done by students, and the graduates' post graduation accomplishments. In addition, the challenges and difficulties, the current status of the ASU program, and recommendations for further development in this area are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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