LOWELL (CBS) – Local college students are fighting terrorism with information, and their project is getting national attention. A group of UMass Lowell criminal justice majors is taking “Project Pace” to Washington, where they’ll present their work to the Department of Homeland Security as part of a national competition.
“We wanted to get an age group where people were the most impressionable and the most susceptible to being radicalized on the Internet,” says student Matt Levenson as he and other team members polish their presentation. They’re the designers behind Project Pace. “Project Pace is an online resource for people to become educated on violent extremism,” Levenson explains.
Using a website and other social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the team created platforms filled with information about terrorism as a way to counter online recruitment by terrorist groups.
“Since 9/11 terrorism as a whole has touched many Americans personally. It’s important that we all know what the threat is, why they do what they do, to keep that from happening again here,” says Kyle Cooper, a member of the team.
The project is part of a competition created by the Department of Homeland Security to encourage college students to teach people about terrorism. “Our target audience is people from ages 13 to 25,” says Daniel Gonzalez.
“We’re focused on young people primarily because they are more likely to be on the Internet and possibly be recruited,” adds Brenna Ambrose.
The Lowell team finished in the top three of the competition. That means they’re going to Washington, DC for the final contest with two other universities.
“I’m so excited for the opportunity to go down there and at least have other people see our project,” says Colleen Silva.
The Lowell students leave tomorrow, and will compete against projects from the University of Maryland and the University of Houston.