Graham talks about analytic games in the classroom
by Stephanie Koons, writer/editor for the College of IST
In Col. Jake Graham’s Security and Risk Analysis Capstone Course (SRA 440W) at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), students navigate a post-cyber society in which the entire power grid has been knocked out by a massive burst of solar wind. Graham, a professor of practice at the College of IST, discussed the class, which is part of a broader strategy to train future analysts, during the first McMurtry Award Lecture, "Using Analytic Decision Games to Teach Security and Risk Analysis in the College Classroom,” held Feb. 22, 2013 in the IST Building.
Graham, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marines, is the recipient of the 2011-12 recipient of the George J. McMurtry Excellence in Teaching and Learning Faculty Enhancement Fund. The fund recognizes IST faculty members at University Park who provide an exceptional learning environment for undergraduates in the classroom or online environments through their innovative teaching, commitment to student learning and creative interface with students.
During his lecture, Graham discussed the use of the Analytic Decision Game (ADG) as a learning tool for students who are interested in pursuing a career in analytics. The ADG is an adaptation of the Tactical Decision Game or military war-game simulation and was developed to promote exercise-based instruction for teaching and practicing the broad aspects of structured analytic techniques to SRA students.
“The ADG is tailored to specific learning outcomes and must meet the demand of an evolving and nimble threat,” Graham said.
To date, Graham has constructed five ADG exercises, with titles like, “Show me the Money,” “Diabolical Deeds in the District,” ‘High Seas Piracy” and “Cyber Threats to the Financial Sector.” The capstone course he is currently teaching, “Cyber Futures: Lights Out” was inspired by a workshop at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., and deals with “societal struggles in a post-cyber world.” The premise of this semester’s ADG is that a “mass coronal ejection event” in the year 2025 has wiped out all digital electronics. Students acting in leadership roles must take stock of unseen risks, establish governance of their communities and defend their fellow citizens from attacks.
Graham, who has been at the College of IST since 2007, is the director of the Center for Network Centric Cognitive and Information Fusion (NC2IF), which conducts data fusion research that spans the information chain from energy detection via sensors and human observation to physical modeling, signal and image processing, pattern recognition, knowledge creation, information infrastructure and human decision-making.
Around the time that Graham was hired at the College of IST, he told audience members during the lecture, then-dean Hank Foley was interested in integrating more of a practitioner’s view into the SRA curriculum. Foley asked Graham to apply his military expertise to “build a war game.”
As part of his curriculum development, Graham said, he has talked to representatives from the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and others about the specific skills and traits they are looking for when hiring intelligence analysts.
“What I’m always interested in is how we can adapt current intelligence analysts’ practices to fit the skill-sets of our students – the digital native,” he said.