A U.S. senator will discuss national security issues in front of an audience of students today.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., will give the speech as part of this year’s UNM National Security Studies Program Symposium. Security experts from across the nation will also gather on campus to educate the University community on the field as part of the two-day event, which kicked off Thursday.

Matthew Baca, director of the program, said the program was initiated in 2009 to help create more diversity within the national intelligence field. Baca said that the program helps students who are interested in securing careers in the field by informing them about job possibilities and exposing them to connections.

“One of the biggest ways we do this is by making them aware of the world around them,” Baca said.

Baca said cybersecurity, which is a recurring theme in this year’s symposium, is something that everyone should be aware of. He said people now live in an age where everybody is interconnected.

“It is impossible not to live in the global situation,” Baca said.“We are no longer isolated geographically with the advent of the internet, 24-hour television news and the ability to communicate instantly around the world both in writing and through Skype or the phone. Our world is all opened up to us, and there is no going back on that.”

Herbert Lin, chief scientist of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, gave two talks Thursday, both of which discussed cybersecurity. He said the symposium can help inform the general public of cybersecurity and its implications.

“The public doesn’t understand security very well at all,” Lin said. “They have an impression of security as cops and robbers. There are certain analogies that are relevant for that, and there are plenty that are not.”

Lin said his talks and the symposium aim to clear up some of the mysteries of security in the United States today. He said cybersecurity is especially lucrative at the moment.

“It’s important for a lot of students because there are lots and lots of jobs in cybersecurity,” Lin said. “Cyber security is one of the biggest problems that the nation is facing today, and there is a huge demand from industry, business and government for people who can actually help.”

Martin Heinrich address in the NSSP Spring 2014 Symposium

10 a.m.

Student Union Ballroom A