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Research for Intelligence & Security Challenges

Summer Internship for Hard Security Problems 

June 3 – August 9, 2024

The Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security (ARLIS) at the University of Maryland, College Park, is seeking faculty mentors to provide technical support for its summer internship program, Research for Intelligence & Security Challenges (RISC). This 10-week paid program pairs student teams with mentors from UMD, INSURE consortium members, and other top universities. Those teams work in collaboration with sponsors from the Department of Defense (DOD) and Intelligence Community (IC) communities. Participating students -- and mentors -- are considered for security clearance sponsorship and then have the potential opportunity to be considered for continued work through the academic year or (for students) future employment with ARLIS or the US government.

ARLIS and RISC are seeking faculty technical mentors who would be able to supervise small teams of senior undergraduate and graduate students working in the following areas:

  • Computer Science, Information Science & Engineering: AI/ML algorithmic development, HCI, data science, data and knowledge engineering, media analysis and forensics, software engineering, systems engineering, supply chain analysis, information systems design, GIS;
  • Mathematics and Statistics: Data analytics, quantitative modeling, experimental design, graph analytics, data visualization;
  • Social & Behavioral Sciences: anthropology, human geography (e.g., pattern of life and mobility modeling), cognitive/neuroscience & psychology, criminal justice, teamwork, and group dynamics, communications, disinformation, and misinformation;
  • Languages and Linguistics: languages of interest to global security including but not limited to Mandarin, Russian, Farsi, Korean, and Arabic;
  • Data/Library Science: Data curation, tagging, metadata, repositories, social media analytics;
  • Additional topics may include Measurement and evaluation of learning outcomes, environmental modeling and remote sensing, human factors, and regulatory public policy.

While specific topics are in development, the missions supported are likely to include geospatial analysis, human geography, disinformation, insider risk, and critical technology protection. These projects are typically closely tied to mission areas and data sources from sponsoring U.S. government agencies. As a result, only U.S. citizens are considered for both the student population and the cadre of faculty mentors.

Depending on the project and mutual interest in extended collaboration, faculty mentors may also be considered for security clearance sponsorship.

More details are in the attached.


U.S. citizens holding full time tenure-track or professional-track faculty appointments at accredited universities will be considered for technical mentor roles.

We anticipate between 100-200 students, matched with about 40-55 faculty mentors. If you are interested but not selected for this year, it is certainly our plan to continue this program every year as long as our agency support continues.

To apply

Please email the following:

  1. Your CV (NSF biosketch format preferred but others accepted)
  2. A short note including: 
    • Your disciplinary focus (referencing the topic areas above);
    • Past work and current interest in tackling research for intelligence and security challenges; and
    • Anything else in your background that could be helpful for the planning committee to know
  3. A ranked list of preferred topics.

Best-considered submissions will be sent before Friday, January 26, 2024.


Salary support roughly equivalent to 25% summer effort is provided to involved faculty mentors. Details vary based on appointment type and will be arranged with RISC organizers.

To minimize contracting delays, non-UMD faculty are expected to be funded through consulting agreements, though -- at institutions with four or more technical mentors -- formal subcontracts can be considered.

Given the virtual platform, housing accommodations, transportation, and food allowances are not provided. However, for those local to the DC area, part-time physical campus workspace can be provided as required.

    Anticipated Schedule

    Milestone or activity Date or time period
    ARLIS collects project ideas from agency partners October through January
    ARLIS selects student participants Early March
    Finalize projects, assign mentors + students to projects Early-March to Mid-April
    Faculty mentors attend RISC mentor planning meeting April 19
    Faculty mentors develop project progress plans: milestones, products, data sources, etc.

    Each mentor/project will be paired with a U.S. Government point of contact to help
    translate the proposed problem into a discrete project doable in 10 weeks.
    April 19 – May 31
    Faculty mentors attend the program kickoff event June 3
    Faculty mentors meet with students: weekly check-in and updates with teams; bi-weekly murder boards Approximately 1 day per week,
    June 3 –  August 2
    Optional but encouraged: bi-weekly lunch seminars June 3 –  August 2
    Faculty members attend final capstone events Week of August 5