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Katrina – An Internship Opportunity

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Laboratory and Internship Innovations in IT/IS

Tagged Division

Information Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.995.1 - 12.995.8



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Paper Authors


Shelton Houston University of Southern Mississippi

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Dr. Houston is a professor in the School of Computing at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Houston has been involved in engineering technology education for 27 years. and has 10 years consulting experience in personal computer systems.

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Billy Walters University of Southern Mississippi

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Prof. Walters holds a Masters of Science degree in Computer Science from The University of Arizona. Prof. Walters’ career includes academic and professional appointments. He has experience working at the Johnson Space Center, with secure government contractors, and directing law enforcement database applications development. His interests are in open source software deployment, programming, applications design, and project management.

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Tulio Sulbaran University of Southern Mississippi

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Tulio Sulbaran is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississipps School of Construction and is the director of the Innovation for Construction and Engineering Enhancement (ICEE) center. He received his BS in Civil Engineering from the University Rafael Urdaneta in Venezuela and his Ph.D in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His research interest is on the impact of information technology resources on construction and engineering education and training.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Katrina - An Internship Opportunity


Hurricane Katrina has been identified as one of the costliest and deadliest natural disasters in recent United States (U.S.) history. On August 29, 2005 the Gulf Coast from southeastern Louisiana to the panhandle of northern Florida devastatingly changed in less than 24 hours. The most significant damage occurred along the Mississippi coast. The resulting storm surge caused catastrophic damage to commercial and residential dwellings, electrical and gas utilities, water and sewer utilities, highway infrastructures as well as telecommunications infrastructures.

The lack of any communications proved to be a desperate need for everyone. In response to this need, a volunteer organization known as was developed. In addition to volunteers, telecommunication companies donated many different types of equipment to support the effort. Initially, the organization was staffed by communication specialists from around the country to design, build, and deploy a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) network in the most severely impacted area, Hancock County, Mississippi. Once the WISP was established, the volunteers left the area, but a continuing need occurred to maintain and expand the WISP network. A request from the Hancock County civil defense for technical support allowed students at a local university’s Information Technology program to fulfill the program’s internship requirements as well as provide a greatly needed public service.

It is anticipated that the information presented in this paper evidences the importance of inter- agency collaboration. Furthermore, this paper provides a perspective on the implementation of an internship program and suggests modifications to the internship requirements to respond to catastrophic events in local areas. Therefore, the content of this paper could be used as an educational experience for students and professionals that are trying to integrate internship experiences into an undergraduate curriculum.

Overview of the Unprecedented Storm

Hurricane Katrina stormed onto the Mississippi Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005 causing severe damage across all of south Mississippi and portions of Alabama and Louisiana. While most people associate Hurricane Katrina with the decimation of New Orleans, the city was not destroyed by a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina; instead, the city was impacted by high water from Lake Pontchartrain breaking the levees that surround the city. Katrina made its way on shore in the early morning hours at the twin coastal cities of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It lashed the shores with winds and waves for more than 6 hours. At an overpass of Interstate-10, more than 6 miles inland, waterlines reached 20 feet above sea level. In the Gulfport, Mississippi harbor, containers from moored ships road the crest of waves and slammed into everything in their path. The off-shore casinos of Biloxi which once resided just a few feet over the gulf were deposited in the middle of nearby thoroughfares.

After the storm, governors, congressional delegations, FEMA and The President were assailed for their failure to respond to the needs of citizens in the affected areas. FEMA was, and still is,

Houston, S., & Walters, B., & Sulbaran, T. (2007, June), Katrina – An Internship Opportunity Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2048

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2007 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015