UTEP Engineering Student Interns with Deepwater Horizon Gulf Coast Oil Spill Response
September 01, 2010 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Mark Sassenfeld, a UTEP graduate student interning with the NRO in DC (Co-Op) program, briefing Admiral Thad Allen for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Mark Sassenfeld, a graduate student in the Department of Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering at UTEP spent his summer interning at the Coast Guard's National Incident Command in Washington D.C. working directly with the government's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
"I was assigned to the US Coast Guard's National Incident Command (NIC) to maximize collaborative utility of the Tactics and Planning (TAP) Table dispatched to the NIC for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," said Mark. "I have briefed Admiral Thad Allen twice on the TAP table, as well as Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama, and other senior Coast Guard officials. I also worked to bring additional capabilities to the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA) in order to enhance the Coast Guard's maritime domain awareness."
Mark also worked with a software developer and was assigned a research and development project to research the patterns and trends of maritime vessels. "Computer games represent some of the most sophisticated programming in the industry and I got to work with the actual developer of one of my favorite computer games. It was a rapid learning environment that I found both challenging and exciting."
"Mark is one of six students in our program… with co-op assignments within the US Intelligence Community during the past year" said Dr. Ricardo Pineda, Director of RIMES and Chair of the Industrial, Manufacturing, and Systems Engineering department. The program was supported by Congressman Silvestre Reyes to provide opportunities for students from UTEP to work in the intelligence community. The long term goal is to expand UTEP and El Paso's contribution and influence in the Global Intelligence community.
"Living in the D.C. area, I got to see and do so many things. I went to major league games, watched a performance at the Kennedy Center, and even attended a fund raiser for the Smithsonian Institution at the Finnish embassy. One of my highlights was a trip to the White House; it was President Barack Obama's birthday and we all got to sing happy birthday to him before he boarded Marine One."
Marked earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UTEP and applied for the program as a senior. He had just started working on his M.S. in Systems Engineering when the group got final approval for the co-op assignments. Now that Mark is back at UTEP, he expects to finish his degree by next year.
"While I really enjoyed my summer, I must admit it was great to see my friends and family when I got back. I was surprised at what a warm reception I received. This is a great town and UTEP has provided me with many opportunities. I hope to work in the intelligence community after I graduate and I don't know exactly where that will take me. I'll admit it is a little scary but I know I will always have a home here in El Paso!"