CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – 12 August 11
USRP Intern Supports IT Security Office
By: Heather L. Ogletree
NASA deals in the currency of information. From advancements in the aerospace industry to biomedical research, NASA has long been a leader in the research and development of resources which not only enhance the space program, but also enhance life here on Earth. However, prior to public release, this information must be safeguarded, and since NASA is a high profile federal agency, certain checks and balances must be in place to protect the security of intellectual property, research, and technology from outside entities. This spring, Vincent Scotti Jr. came to NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) from Brevard Community College in Florida to gain hands on experience with the IT Security Office as part of a 15 week immersive internship with the Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP).
Scotti is what you would call a nontraditional student, which is a student that did not go to university right out of high school or a student that comes from a community college; roughly 10% of the spring class began as community college students. He said, “Being an untraditional student, and ‘mature’ student with a disability, I have had to show that I can keep up with my peers, while at the same time prove that I have the determination and work ethic to succeed in a highly technical environment.” However, as a nontraditional student, Scotti had prior professional experience with computer troubleshooting that actually served as a benefit during his time at KSC. In addition, Scotti had an internship experience with the National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) under his belt before being accepted into USRP.
For his project, Scotti worked with NASA Mentor Henry Yu to ensure KSC IT systems were in compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) of 2002, which mandates the development, documentation, and agency wide implementation of a program to provide information security.
According to Yu, “Vincent’s project is to support the validation of FISMA compliance. The validation process ensured the security controls defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are addressed. In addition to the compliance validation task, Vincent also supported the implementation and testing of a new security component that will be deployed later this year.”
Scotti added, “This was actually the dream placement for my future plans. I intend to go into Computer Security Compliance and this just gave me a taste of exactly what I will be doing.”
For his project, Scotti had to read a “vast” amount of material covering information security compliance. He noted, “I was always aware of using technology to secure a computer network, but I was not aware of all the methodology, policies and procedures it actually takes to complete the task.” This posed a challenge for Scotti at first, but Yu and his team “were always there to answer a question or give you advice” and made him feel like “part of the family.”
After his internship, Scotti will be attending Florida Institute of Technology for his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering. Upon graduation, He intends to continue his education by obtaining a master’s degree in computer engineering and hopes to come back to NASA one day to work. Yu commented, “Vincent possesses a can-do attitude.” And fortunately for Scotti, this positive can-do attitude won him another internship opportunity in the KSC IT Security Office continuing his work this summer.