In furnishing Lockheed Martin with white papers that address biometrics challenges in the U.S., two West Virginia University students may have helped improve national security. In earning scholarships for their efforts, the students also helped themselves.

Alicia Harmon of Independence and Chloe Snyder of Pigeon, biometric systems majors in WVU’s Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, were each awarded a $5,000 scholarship from Lockheed Martin for papers they submitted as part of a contest.

Their answers to “What steps should America take to foster further adoption of biometrics in addressing our nation’s challenges-and why?,” were evaluated based on relevance to top-level national interests in application of biometrics, creativity, persuasiveness and feasability. The students were honored at a ceremony at the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources April 27.

“While Lockheed Martin has been funding a biometric scholarship program at WVU since 2007, we wanted to do something unique this year,” said John Mears, director of Biometric Solutions for Lockheed Martin. “Right now there’s great opportunity for biometrics to help address some of our nation’s most pressing challenges. It made perfect sense that we inspire the next generation of biometrics talent here at WVU to consider how they can be part of the solution.”

Harmon’s paper, “Biometrics: Securing American Children’s Futures,” focused on the technology available to parents and caregivers to keep children safe and prevent abductions.

“When a child is enrolled in school, parents are asked for several items including immunization records, birth certificate, and social security number,” said Harmon. “Adding a set of up to five approved guardian fingerprints to pair with the child’s at the same time would be very easy.”

“Alicia is a very dedicated student,” said Bojan Cukic, professor and co-director of the Center for Identification Technology Research. “Alicia has been elected by her peers as the president of the Student Association for the Advancement of Biometrics. She spares no effort to popularize biometrics amongst WVU students, as well as by visiting high schools in the region. It has been a true pleasure observing her professional growth over the past couple of years. The Lockheed Martin scholarship award could not have been awarded to a more deserving student.”

Snyder discussed the creation of multimodal systems that use a combination of different biometric recognition technologies to identify a person.

“When looking at this multimodal system implemented by BIMA (Biometrics Identity Management Agency), the public perception of this system must be taken into account. Whether or not a person is willing to use the system could introduce some potential problems,” said Snyder. “Many people, around flu season, would be less than willing to place their hand on a hand geometry scanner after numerous other people have placed their hands there. The same applies for a fingerprint scanner. Facial recognition and iris recognition require a less physical relationship. Contact of any sort is not necessary. These are the sorts of issues that are essential when looking at adopting a biometric system.”

“Chloe is a hard-working student who is keen on obtaining hands-on experience in biometrics,” said Arun Ross, Robert C. Byrd associate professor and assistant director, Center for Identification Technology Research. “Her interest is in the area of biometric sensors, and she has assisted the FBI Biometric Center of Excellence with biometric data collection.”

Lockheed Martin’s philanthropic program strives to improve the quality of life in communities where employees live and work. The company has a tradition of involvement that includes philanthropy, leadership and volunteer support of educational, civic and cultural initiatives throughout the nation.

Headquartered in Bethesda, MD, Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 126,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s 2010 sales from continuing operations were $45.8 billion.



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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, CEMR