Approximately 330 people from NGA, industry, academia and government gathered at the T-REX innovation center in St. Louis for Tech Showcase West Oct. 16, showing the growing enthusiasm for GEOINT innovation in St. Louis, said Keith Masback, chief executive officer for U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, which organized the event.
"The greater St. Louis metropolitan area shares an absolute commitment to being not only a national leader, but an international leader, in geospatial innovation," Masback said. "It's palpable."
The fifth floor of the T-REX was "overflowing" with GEOINT enthusiasts during Day 1 of Tech Showcase, said Mark Munsell, NGA deputy director of the CIO-IT Services directorate.
An additional 90 people visited the T-REX the night before, Oct. 15, for a USGIF Young Professionals Group event on GEOINT innovation, nearly doubling the expected attendance, said USGIF board member Michael Lee.
"It was awesome to feel the energy and excitement about what is happening in this area," said Munsell.
Tech Showcase West is an annual two-day event in St. Louis that aims to bring together NGA leaders and workforce with colleagues outside of the government to inspire and foster innovation. The first day is hosted at an unclassified site, and the second day is at the NGA facility at Second Street.
The unclassified Day 1 of Tech Showcase West featured a discussion between NGA Director Robert Cardillo and former NGA Director Letitia A. Long; an update on Next NGA West from N2W Program Manager Sue Pollmann; and other panel discussions and flash talks from industry on topics regarding GEOINT innovation and St. Louis. For a full agenda, visit USGIF's web page from the SBU.
Cardillo and Long kicked off Day 1 of Tech Showcase with a “fireside chat” on the future of GEOINT and NGA. Among the topics discussed during Cardillo’s and Long’s discussion were the skills needed for the NGA workforce currently and for the future; the new NGA facility in St. Louis; the role of artificial intelligence, augmentation and automation at the agency; and the importance of collaborating with outside industry, academia and others.
The director began by talking about his vision for the Next NGA West facility. When he sees the site, he said, "I don’t see a field of dirt.”
"We’re making a bet — on you, on your company, on your school, on your innovative ideas — and I think that bet will pay off to our nation,” he said.
"Yes, there will be a fence, because we need to be secure,” he said. "But there will be facilitated access inside and out. If we can’t invite your team on, we can’t avail ourselves of the opportunities you represent."
“GEOINT is not just science, it’s not just art — it’s both,” he said. "We still need poetry majors at NGA.”