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HBCU students immerse in geospatial summer program with Harris-Stowe, in collaboration with NGA

 June 6, 2022

 Media Relations
 Office of Corporate Communications

HBCU students immerse in geospatial summer program with Harris-Stowe, in collaboration with NGA

Harris-Stowe State University will host a group of undergraduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in June for a month-long HBCU GEOINT Undergraduate Research Experience Summer Immersion Program in St. Louis. 

The program, held in collaboration with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, is an intensive experience from June 6 to June 30 aiming to develop geospatial intelligence interest and skills in students from the nation’s HBCUs. Experts in geospatial science from HSSU, NGA and others in the St. Louis geospatial community will lead discussions with students about geospatial topics and careers and will work with students to develop geospatial skills and solutions to societal challenges. 

The program is being made possible by funding from St. Louis Development Corporation and the National Science Foundation. 

“The goal of the program is to ‘immerse’ students in GEOINT,” said Freddie Wills, Ph.D., HSSU vice president for STEM initiatives and research partnerships. “We want to show that GEOINT and geospatial technologies are developed for, and can be used in, so many applications to address some of society’s greatest challenges. There is no one path into careers in the geospatial industry.”

Wills said another goal of the program is to introduce students, many who are not from the St. Louis area, to the St. Louis geospatial ecosystem.

“We want the students to see what St. Louis has to offer,” he said. “More specifically, we want to expose students to the geospatial ecosystem in St. Louis and advance their skill sets in geospatial technologies and applications. This program is one way HSSU is supporting the development of a talented and diverse pipeline of geospatial scientists who are ready to advance the GEOINT tradecraft and expertise in St. Louis.” 

Local organizations participating in the program include GDIT, MAXAR, World Wide Technology, ESRI, LaunchCode, T-REX, CORTEX, National Security Innovation Network, the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and a number of small businesses and startups.

During the program, students will live in HSSU’s campus. Classes and sessions will focus on topics such as analyzing geospatial data and satellite imagery; applying geospatial tools to real-world problems; developing and pitching proposals to address challenges; and navigating geospatial internships and careers. The program will take place in locations across St. Louis, including CORTEX and HSSU’s GeoHornet Labs and NGA’s Moonshot Labs, both located in the T-REX.

HSSU worked closely with NGA to develop the program curriculum and to develop the real NGA intelligence questions the students will work on during the program, said Jessie Bleile, NGA visiting professor at Harris-Stowe State University. The students will also be introduced to NGA’s college internship program, Bleile said. 

“The hope is that all of the students who participate continue in the geospatial industry next summer, whether at NGA or a partner organization or university,” Bleile said.

The program will end with a graduation ceremony June 30.