Today@Sam Article

Heritage Magazine: Securing The Future

June 13, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd


For over a year, Hayden Marshall has juggled continuing his education as a computer science student at Sam Houston State University with his responsibilities as an intern with the Institute of Homeland Security (IHS) within the College of Criminal Justice. Through this internship he has been able to aid in developing websites for IHS and an app for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Marshall was presented with the unique opportunity to work with the IHS after meeting Michael Aspland, the institute’s director, while visiting a local church. As the two got to chatting, Aspland told Marshall how his computer science expertise could help the institute.

“He (Aspland) initially said cybersecurity, but then he said they also need help developing a website,” Marshall said. “He said if I wanted to do that then I was more than welcome to. I went through the application process and after the interview he stood up and was like, well if you want it, the job is yours, so I took it right then and there.”

With the logistics squared away, Marshall jumped into his internship and got to work on the website. The institute had previously gotten the framework of the page lined out with the help of an outside vendor, leaving the rest in Marshall’s skilled hands.

Hayden-Heritage-commencement-3.png“I’ve had expertise now, not only in coding, but I took some web design classes at my community college about three years ago,” Marshall said. “Having both of those, I was able to go in and really start being able to understand what they wanted and say these are the limitations and this is what we have to work with.”

As he worked on the website, Marshall collaborated with numerous higher-ups in the institute, providing their projects and collaborative works with landing pages attached to the IHS page. One such collaboration was with a project manager over the health care sector. By working together, they created a landing page for the manager’s goal of providing Houston-area healthcare partners with IHS with a centralized location for information.

On top of working with the health program manager and their partners, Marshall also helped the newly established Center for Intelligence and Crime Analysis, which is also housed under the IHS, with their website. Thanks to his help, the page is up and running, allowing the center to share information about its work and the classes that it offers.

Through his connection with the health program manager, Marshall was later able to assist in developing an app for the Harris County Fire Marshal. The project turned into a contract with one of his professors, resulting in Marshall’s work on the app’s development counting toward his course credit. On top of this, the app assists the fire marshal in sharing detailed information about incidents such as chemical spills or explosions with first responders in the effected area. Completing these projects serve a dual purpose for Marshall. On one hand, he is building up impressive experience and on the other, his work is contributing to a greater good.

“I really enjoyed it, it changed the trajectory of what I was thinking I wanted to do after graduation,” Marshall said. “Originally, I was very big into NASA, I love outer space and science and that’s what I wanted to do. But now, having worked with IHS and having worked with different projects, I like working on software and apps and things for something that has a little bit more meaning behind it.”

Thanks to his work at the IHS and with the Harris County Fire Marshal, he feels confident that he has risen to their expectations. As he stands on the cusp of his next journey, Marshall appreciates those who ignited and supported his passion for computer science.

“A lot of it comes down to the professors I’ve had within the computer science department,” Marshall said. “There are several that have a lot of industry experience and they’re more than willing to share that in class or if you have questions, they just love talking about that and they know what it’s like getting out there and working within that. Seeing their passion for that is kind of like osmosis and it makes me more passionate about it.”

To read the full version of Heritage Magazine - Spring 2024, follow this link.

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