Missouri high school students can work toward a geospatial intelligence industry credential while pursuing a high school diploma.
The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) partnered with Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliance Academies Inc. (AYBAA), an education management and workforce solutions provider in the St. Louis region, to bring Entry to Executive, an industry certification program, to Missouri high school students to encourage them to work toward a geospatial intelligence industry credential while pursuing a high school diploma.
Both USGIF and AYBAA are organizations with a mission centered on keeping U.S. companies, regions, and government globally competitive by ensuring that students of all backgrounds have the access to STEAM education and tools needed to follow GEOINT career pathways in now and next-generation technologies.
The pilot program began on June 15, 2020, as an all virtual training offered to Missouri students. For 12 weeks students endured rigorous training in GIS and GEOINT. The program facilitates the Geospatial Specialist K-12 training created as an “earn while you learn” model offering students ages 16 to 19 the opportunity to earn skills and credentials that will qualify them for entry-level apprenticeship or internship roles that pay a living wage as they pursue two or four-year degrees.
“This is a historic moment for our community! We hope that more schools and organizations whose core values align with our mission to build and grow GEOINT education and career pathway programs will soon join our initial efforts. We want a larger and more diverse pool of talented students to not only dream of pursuing a vocational or 4-year degree but to also receive early exposure, guidance, and support while building valuable skills and experience through paid industry or government apprenticeships,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professional Development, Camelia Kantor, Ph.D.
“The most incredible aspect of this training program is that we can recruit young Americans who are completely unaware of this industry, train them with the skills to fulfill an entry-level role, and help them on an academic and career pathway that serves the interest of the U.S. government and U.S. companies. We are very proud that we have found innovative solutions to fill these talent pipelines with young American talent from both urban and rural communities. How different would the world be if we could train 100 students a year?” said AYBAA Chair and Gateway Global Data Logistics Co. President, Zekita Armstrong Asuquo.
To complement the GEOINT training, Esri provided complimentary software that was used to provide hands-on training in Geographic Information Systems, teaching students digital map production; utilization and manipulation of layer symbology; point, line, and polygon editing; and differentiation between databases, feature sets, and shapefiles.
USGIF developed the GEOINT learning modules as part of a National Science Foundation funded through a GeoTech Center award and adapted them for high school teaching. Also, USGIF developed the GEOINT USGIF Certificate Program Pathway Examination. After completing the program, seven students participated in the testing, four of which have passed it.
“Together, we have an ambitious goal to attract and build a regional supportive ecosystem that could make St. Louis and nearby area a successful national and global story,” said Kantor.