Provided by TSA at Charleston International Airport
The Charleston Transportation Security Administration (TSA) joined with Charleston International Airport (CHS) to host students from the North Charleston High School Law Enforcement class.
Women in Homeland Security organized the Oct,. 24 event, the first in a series of educational opportunities designed to show students how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills are put to work in jobs at the TSA and the airport.
Assistant Federal Security Director Bob Baker welcomed the students and gave a brief overview about TSA. Then the students headed to the security screening checkpoint where Transportation Security Specialist-Explosives (TSSE) Mark Chapman gave an explosive simulant
demonstration and a short history lesson on why passenger screening is important to today's air travel.
Chapman and Security Training Instructor Katie Christenson demonstrated how test equipment worked, including the X-ray, Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), Bottle Liquid Scanner (BLS), and Explosive Trace Detection (ETD). Sample explosive simulants were put through the X-ray and the students were asked to identify the explosive items.
TSA Manager John Forbes shared the details of the TSA screening process and surprised the students when he told them the number of passengers screened per day at CHS. On peak days, more than 7,000 people will pass through the checkpoint screening enroute to board a flight.
The students had a chance to meet Carl Mankins from the Charleston County Bomb Squad who demonstrated a portable X-ray, robot platform and a few of the students tried on a bomb suit. The students quickly learned just how hot and heavy the suit becomes and how difficult it is to hear with the helmet on.
No visit to CHS would be complete without seeing the TSA K9s at work. Donny “Brooks” Futch with his dog Harry and Jason Bennett with his dog Max explained how the dogs work to find explosives as their dogs waited restlessly to get to work. Once the teaching portion was over, Harry and Max quickly showed their handler which bag contained the inert explosive.
The final stop on the tour was a visit with Jonathan Sheppard, an engineer for the Charleston County Aviation Authority for an overview of the airport's ongoing construction projects and how engineering is essential to the planning of the projects. He shared with the students how excited he is to be involved in the engineering design at the airport and the multi-million dollar projects he has already had the privilege to work on.
It was a busy day, packed with a lot of information for these students to learn what kind of technology is used to keep the traveling public safe. We hope this experience will peak some of the students’ interest to study hard and help develop the technology that will help us remain vigilant. We plan to continue this relationship with the schools to help educate our future leaders.