VINCENNES, Ind., November 22, 2021 – It is a mock demonstration however, Vincennes University students are still on the edge of their seats as they watch Transportation Security Administration (TSA) K-9 informative dog, Taco, work.
Bags are scattered throughout the classroom in the Homeland Security Building on the Vincennes Campus. Only one contains black powder. TSA Officer Wendell “Dell” Hart delivers the command, “Search.” The canine inspects the room. Taco shows the students his ability to sniff out any substance that is a danger to the people by choosing the contaminated bag. To signal that he located the correct bag, Taco sits directly in front of it. After selecting the correct one, Hart tosses him a chew toy as a reward.
TSA officers Christopher Hudson and Hart were at VU on Nov. 18 to talk to students about potential career opportunities and to demonstrate the explosive detection abilities of the K-9 informative dog.
Students filled the classroom and listened to Hudson, a VU alumnus, present potential career options that could be helpful to them in their future.
Hudson is a 2016 VU Homeland Security and Public Safety
graduate from Brownsburg, Indiana, who is currently a lead transportation security officer of the TSA. When he came into the coordinator position, he said the first thing that came to mind was VU.
“I’ve been a student here, and I was sure that if I reached out, Caprino would help us do a presentation and let applicants from VU apply if they’re interested,” Hudson said. “One career opportunity of the TSA is becoming a lead transportation security officer. You can also be a training instructor that oversees the training of the officers, which occurs frequently. We train every month across the (Indianapolis) airport.”
According to Hudson, the TSA offers many great opportunities and positions such as supervisor, manager, and K-9 handler. He emphasizes individuals gain a skill set by being a behavior detective specialist.
“VU helped me by having the education necessary, having the diploma in hand, it helped my confidence and my maturity level to be successful at the job,” he adds.
Throughout the presentation, students asked questions and expressed interest in all the possibilities they could choose from in their future endeavors leading into their careers.
VU Homeland Security and Public Safety major Ansley Miller from Boonville, Indiana, said that the hands-on demonstration allowed insight for students who are interested in pursuing this line of work.
“I think it’s an awesome demonstration for the students to be able to see rather than sitting in lectures all day,” she said. “Students get to understand what the job entails and watch how the dog alerted, and it gives them a better view on the whole job. I think it gives students a different perspective, and students can also come up after the presentation and talk to the TSA officers. They offered a job today where you’d be able to go and have dogs detect you, so I think those are some awesome opportunities to get into the program and have a foot in the door.”
The event ended with honorary recognition awards awarded to Hudson and Hart for their dedication and hard work in their field.
The well-organized, hands-on presentation was a collaboration among the Hudson, Hart, VU Homeland Security and Public Safety Program Chair and Retired FBI Special Agent Lou Caprino, and the VU Career Center.
“I think this type of first-hand demonstration gives students opportunities to see potential career paths within the federal government,” Caprino said. “Chris Hudson is a living example of what you can do with a VU degree, and the presentation also showed students career opportunities around town.”
Real-world learning experiences help students learn and understand more about what they are planning to pursue in their future careers. It also allows for more different and creative ways that can help students learn more about their passion and industry.