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Intelligence Agency Discusses Career Opportunities at GIS Day

GIS day at UT Dallas

Leaders of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (from left) Derek Davis, Ed Gardner, Mark Darder and Dr. Jodicus Wayne Prosser visited campus to talk about careers and specialties during a panel discussion.

Military and political leaders need accurate information to make critical decisions such as where to deploy troops, locate targets and monitor terrorism threats, and they depend on geospatial scientists for this type of data.

UT Dallas students interested in pursuing careers in intelligence-related fields had the opportunity to attend a recent panel discussion with leaders of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) who visited campus to talk about careers and specialties. The talk was part of GIS Day, an annual event that showcases UT Dallas’ geospatial information sciences programs and the increasing use of GIS in diverse applications in natural and social sciences.

“NGA provides the visual context that helps shape decisions for the president of the United States, as well as Congress,” Dr. Lenora Peters Gant, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency senior executive for academic outreach and STEM, told the audience.

Geospatial intelligence involves analyzing imagery and information to assess geographic regions and answer a variety of spatial questions, such as the locations of allies or enemies.

The agency named UT Dallas a Center for Academic Excellence earlier this year in a new initiative to prepare the future workforce for fields such as homeland security and disaster management. UT Dallas is the only institution in Texas and one of only 17 nationwide to be named a center of excellence by the agency.

Muna Shah, a PhD student in geospatial information sciences (GIS), said the panel was an excellent way to highlight skills that students can learn at UT Dallas, including the certificate program in geospatial intelligence.

It was good to see students interact with NGA officials and other GIS professionals for exciting GIS career opportunities at the GIS Day.

Dr. May Yuan,
Ashbel Smith Professor of Geospatial Information Sciences

“The panel was incredibly informative and eye-opening for members of the audience who had little idea of the real-world applications of geospatial research,” Shah said.

Shah also is president of the GIS Student Organization (GISSO), one of the event’s sponsors, along with the GIS program at UT Dallas.

The School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences (EPPS) offers bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in GIS, and graduate certificates in geospatial intelligence, geographic information systems and remote sensing to prepare students for a variety of fields, including local government and the oil and gas industry.

Students who want to pursue careers with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency must be U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old and pass a security clearance to be considered for a position, Gant said.

After the panel discussion, several UT Dallas students talked to NGA officials about internships and scholarships. Students from three high schools also attended the public event to learn about GIS.

The GIS Student Organization (GISSO) organized GIS Day. Activities at GIS Day, which is observed worldwide, included lectures, a poster competition, games and an industry fair with representatives from more than 14 companies and organizations.

“It was good to see students interact with NGA officials and other GIS professionals for exciting GIS career opportunities at the GIS Day,” said Dr. May Yuan, Ashbel Smith Professor of Geospatial Information Sciences.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

Tagged: EPPS