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Tech Receives Information Security Accolades

SOCORRO, N.M. July 23, 2009 – New Mexico Tech has earned the highest accolades from the Department of Defense for excellence in industrial security.

The agency’s Defense Security Service named 14 winners of the Cogswell Award through a rigorous process of security evaluations. The award recognizes federal contractors that have consistently exceptional information assurance systems and procedures.

“We are very pleased in learning that EMRTC has again won the Cogswell Award,” university president Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said. “Winning the award once is quite an accomplishment, but winning it twice is really extraordinary.”

Lopez said the award is an indication that EMRTC director Dr. John Meason and his staff are among the best in the nation and that they are extremely diligent in protecting confidential information.

The university’s Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center, or EMRTC, works with the Department of Defense, industrial contractors and other federal agencies on a wide range of projects related to national security and defense.

Security director at EMRTC Dennis Hunter said the award truly is a feather in the cap for the university and for EMRTC. He and security manager Marcie Gallegos attended a ceremony in Anaheim, Calif., in June to receive the award.

“We have top level security clearance at New Mexico Tech and we have to protect our documents and provide security for our operations,” Hunter said. He said the award is an indication that Tech’s security team does an exceptional job of ensuring that stringent federal rules are followed at all times.

When receiving the award, the DSS representatives said the Cogswell Award is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement – but Tech has now won the award twice.

“If you get one of these awards, you’re lucky,” Hunter said. “Now, New Mexico Tech has received two. That’s an absolute superior achievement.”

Hunter gave the bulk of the credit for the award to Marcie Gallegos, who is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of EMRTC’s security program.

New Mexico Tech previously won the award in 2002. Other award winners in 2009 include Raytheon, Motorola, Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton. New Mexico Tech is the only university to receive the award this year.

The award is named after Air Force Col. James S. Cogswell, who was the first chief of industrial security within the Department of Defense. He was responsible for developing the basic principles of the Industrial Security Program, which include an emphasis on the partnership between industry and government to protect classified information. This partnership ultimately ensures the greatest protection for the U.S. war fighter and our nation’s classified information. The Cogswell Award has recognized industrial security excellence since 1966.

This year, DSS presents the James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award to 14 of over 12,500 defense contractors that are subject to annual inspection. Factors include establishing and maintaining a security program that far exceeds the basic National Industrial Security Program requirements; and providing leadership to other cleared facilities in establishing best practices while maintaining the highest standards for security.

The Cogswell Award selection process is rigorous. An Industrial Security Representative of the agency must nominate a facility that has had at least two consecutive superior review ratings and has shown a sustained degree of excellence and innovation in their overall security program management, implementation and oversight. The Cogswell Award is given for outstanding achievement in matters related exclusively to a facility’s security program.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich