Center for Intelligence Research Analysis and Training (CIRAT)
The Center for Intelligence Research, Analysis, and Training (CIRAT) hones and professionalizes the skills of students in Intelligence Studies and Computer Information Science programs.
The CIRAT has worked with more than 250 government entities, private sector companies, nongovernmental organizations on real-world projects, giving nearly 1,000 students marketable applied experience in their fields of study before they graduate. Student-analysts gain real-world skills in competitive intelligence, strategic intelligence, data analytics, and cyber security by working with the following different types of companies across the nation:
- National security organizations
- U.S. government agencies
- Private sector businesses
- Law enforcement groups
- Competitive intelligence organizations
- Nongovernmental organizations
The CIRAT team is comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors across the university and its colleges, including:
Analysts are mentored by experienced faculty and staff within these disciplines. The application process is tailored to mirror the hiring process found in the professional job market. Students must submit a resume and are interviewed by principal investigators, clients, and the Ridge College director of operations.
Students identify networks and victims, provide resources for law enforcement, and develop intelligence-based activities to detect and report intelligence information about foreign or domestic developments that could indicate a threat to U.S. security, political or economic interests, or the private sector.
- Anti-Money Laundering: Students work to detect, prevent, and investigate money laundering of malicious groups such as drug cartels, terrorists, and nation states.
- Anti-Human Trafficking: Students work with real-world programs to devise a protocol to report human trafficking, educate potential targets, develop resources for law enforcement, and create a data repository all members can access.
- Indications and Warnings: Students work to develop Indications and Warnings products that are intelligence-based activities intended to detect and report time-intelligence information of foreign developments that could involve a threat to U.S. military, political, or economic interests.
Competitive Business Intelligence
Students learn about the competitive landscape of a business environment and hone market and social media analysis skills. Using a variety of analytic techniques, they determine the internal capabilities of a business, and the impact of the external environment.
- Competitive Landscape: Students collect and analyze the needed intelligence required for a variety of businesses and their competition. They can identify the client’s business environment and analyze competitors in that environment.
- Market Analysis: Students use a variety of analytic techniques like SWOT to determine the internal capabilities of a business, and the impact of the external environment of that business.
- Social Media Analysis: Students analyze the various social media platforms and best practices competitors use to capitalize on their target markets. Students analyze the different demographics of each platform as well as industry trends.
- Supply Chain Risk Identification and Management
Country, Threat, and Vulnerability Assessments
Students identify and analyze the capabilities of malicious actors in and outside the U.S. They learn about country and regional assessments, geospatial intelligence, and apply a variety of analytic techniques to understand each party’s motives. Students analyze and forecast what a country or region will look like at a specific time, based on factors that affect the operational environment.
- Country/Regional Assessments: Students can analyze and forecast what a country or region will look like at a specific time based on a variety of factors that affect such as population, government, etc.
- Geospatial Intelligence: Students identify physical and human geography in correlation to geographically referenced activities on earth using ArcGIS to visually depict and describe intelligence on a map.
Direct Operational Support
CIRAT supplies analysts to provide direct operational support to companies and government entities, which set the daily scope of work required based on their analytical needs and projects. Mercyhurst analysts provide required information, data, or feedback, per reporting guidelines set by clients.
Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT)
Students utilize their Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) training and education to safely exploit the surface, deep, and dark web, including the vast social media digital landscape. They follow Tier 0, Tier 1, and Tier 2 research and collection methods and tradecraft, including the capability to properly conduct managed attribution, which is used to mitigate both topical and technical risks.
Data Science Support
Students serve as key informants for decision-makers in both the public and private sectors. They assess, evaluate, and respond to decision-makers’ needs and requirements, collecting, storing, and querying data from a variety of sources.
Students are introduced to data analysis, cyber threat assessments, and digital forensics, through which they obtain, organize, and transform data for storage, exploration, visualization, and analysis. Students learn to assess and recover stolen digital information from a security breach and trace a breach to its source to prevent further malicious activity. Their work also empowers them to identify potential and future cyber threats and understand how to defend against them.
Other Services Offered
- Custom Analysis: Utilizing a variety of analytic techniques, students produce estimative intelligence products and briefings to meet decision-maker needs. Analysis, data research and collection, and products are specified to meet a unique client need in the strategic or business intelligence community.
- Program Evaluation: CIRAT offers a third-party analytical assessment of your organization’s programs. It provides the customer and funding authorities a review of program deliverables, fiduciary soundness, and program impact.
- Test Bed Analysts: Mistakes are necessary before improvement can be made. Our robust team of Intelligence Studies and Data Science students provide a client a capability able to test new and developing intelligence processes, technologies, algorithms, and analytical scenario-based testing.
- Certification and Course Development: The Ridge College has developed courses of varying lengths and to varying degrees of intensity for the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and other government agencies, including some foreign governments. We are prepared to use our highly skilled subject matter experts and instructional designers to develop effective training courses to meet client needs. Potential areas include, but are not limited to:
- National Security Intelligence
- Law Enforcement Intelligence
- Competitive Intelligence
- Intelligence for Cyber Issues
- Intelligence for Counterterrorism Issues
The CIRAT coordinates internship training opportunities for intelligence and cyber students, academic partners, and public and private sector entities. Internships are coordinated by the CIRAT, a client’s internship program director, and the Mercyhurst Career Center. They can be paid or unpaid, for academic credit, or a combination of paid summer internship and a potential job offer upon graduation.
Professional Organizations Affiliated with CIRAT include:
- Security Executive Counsel (SEC)
- Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP)
- Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU)
Academic partnership internships are offered where Mercyhurst provides student interns to a client; the client in turn agrees to provide a set number of internship opportunities to Mercyhurst students on a semester and summer basis. Non-academic partnership internships are also offered, where positions are directly solicited for Mercyhurst to fill, or come through a general solicitation of the CIRAT. CIRAT Internships may be paid, unpaid, and/or applicable to academic credit.
Academic Partnership: Mercyhurst enters into an official Academic Partnership with a client. This allows the university to provide student interns through a streamlined process. The client in turn agrees to provide a set number of internship opportunities to Mercyhurst students on a semester and summer basis.
Non-Academic Partnership: These internship opportunities are provided by an entity or organization in the private, government, or public sector that Mercyhurst University does not have an active Academic Partnership in place with. Non-Academic Partnership internships can be directly solicited to Mercyhurst for the opportunity to fill, or through a general solicitation as located by the CIRAT.
The CIRAT is a member of a number of different professional organizations, including: