UMSL, NGA Partner to Train Future Geospatial Workforce

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) have formed a partnership aimed at preparing students to enter careers in geospatial intelligence.

“As a longtime driver of workforce development in our region, UMSL is committed to adapting our programming and preparing our students to support that growth,” said Kristin Sobolik, UMSL’s Chancellor. “We envision St. Louis becoming a hub for geospatial technology, not just in Missouri or in the Midwest but globally, and we are eager to work with NGA to help shape that future. We know our students and faculty will benefit greatly from the talent and expertise of NGA professionals.”

The agreement will see UMSL educators teaming up with NGA professionals to create science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classes, degree programs and programming to train students to work in the geospatial field.

The partnership between UMSL and NGA comes two years after the university announced its GeoFutures initiative, a new initiative to bolster the region’s rapidly growing geospatial sector and develop a strategic plan for the future.

GeoFutures works to create a shared vision and align the efforts of many people and institutions towards the common goal of making St. Louis the nation’s geospatial center of excellence.

The GeoFutures initiative is committed not only to growth, but to equitable growth. The initiative will prioritize linking work to opportunities that help achieve racial equity by reducing barriers to career pathways, particularly for African American residents.

“NGA has made it a huge focus for us to help on developing programs and help build us those communities that give kids that are in the neighborhoods watching NGA be built and think ‘someday, I want to work. I want to be there. What can I do to get into that building?’ Through this partnership, that gives us the opportunity of doing exactly that,” said Will Werner, Director of the UMSL Geospatial Collaborative.

Geospatial analysis and cybersecurity are thriving sectors in Missouri, with solid foundations due to the presence of NGA and its thousands of employees.

NGA broke ground on its new western regional headquarters in north St. Louis, Missouri, in 2016. Scheduled to open in 2025, NGA West represents a $1.7 billion investment and exemplifies the explosive growth of the geospatial ecosystem in St. Louis, of which NGA is just one active member.

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