But that final course might be a bear

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BUFFALO, NY – Starting later this month, and for five weeks thereafter, a group of students at Medaille college will be confronting several disastrous events.

It's the final hurdle they have to clear, in order to become the first to graduate from that school with a degree in Homeland Security.

A few days after retiring from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011, Steve MacMartin took over as Director of Medaille's then newly created Homeland Security Bachelor's Degree program.

For the final class of its first group of degree candidates, he has cooked up something special

"It is a computer based scenario, which runs in real time, with real life like situations that the students are going to have to respond to," MacMartin told WGRZ-TV.

The scenarios could range from natural disasters, to manmade ones like terror attacks.

"And they'll be required to make decisions based on things that happen," MacMartin said.

However, just as in real life, they won't have any certainty of what might occur.

"I don't want to go into the specific things it will involve because the students have yet to take it, but I can explain it as being a scenario that will start running their first day of class, and it will run 24 hours 7 days a week, for 35 days."

MacMartin did confirm the scenarios will involve a series of calamities will beset a city called Medailleville, which will look and feel very much like Buffalo.

"It'll be five weeks where they have to be on their game 24/7," he said.

"I've done things similar to this in the past when I worked for the navy where scenario based, time based scenarios have been created," said Dennis McGroder, whose firm McGroder Consulting was hired to design the software for the program. "It's about simulating a real environment for the students so they can react in a similar situation as if it were in real time and live."

The scenarios, though fictitious, will be loosely based on real events which have occurred in the past, such as the Boston Marathon bombings.

"What we're trying to provide them with is scenarios that have foundations in real world events so that we have something to work from both from grading and for the analysis point of the students," MacMartin explained. "I joined with my adjuncts to come up with a list of preferable and accepted responses that the students will have to address. If they don't get the correct ones, there won't be demerits, but the learning will take place because they're going to have to analyze why they made the incorrect answers, and why the other answers would have been correct."

McGroder is also eager to see the program in action. "I've been so busy with the design, layout, and coding to make it work... I'm actually very interested (and) wanting to pretend to be like a student myself and really see how it works and learn from it," he said.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Chief Photojournalist Andy DeSantis. Follow Dave on Twitter:@DaveMcKinley2

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