The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is offering a series of workshops aimed at helping educators better understand and teach science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

The workshops – hosted at NGA’s Moonshot Labs unclassified collaboration space in downtown St. Louis – aim to connect educators with NGA experts to help build a curriculum around the STEM disciplines necessary to train students in STEM careers that are in high demand at NGA, and prepare the geospatial workforce of the future.

“While leaving the curriculum development to the experts, these informal discussions help NGA de-mystify the STEM topics and STEM careers that NGA needs for its future workforce, for teachers whose students might not know much yet about the agency or what we do,” Jessie Bleile, who is serving as a visiting faculty at both universities on behalf of NGA, said in a statement.

“We’re working directly with teachers to exchange ideas on training and tradecraft to bring more talent into NGA and STEM,” Bleile said.

In the most recent workshop in the series that took place on Feb. 2, Melanie Bick, NGA’s Office of Geomatics People Culture and Community lead, gave a presentation on hiring pathways and training programs in geomatics. She spoke extensively about “Individualized Education and Training Plans,” which are the desired tracks for NGA geomatics tradecraft development.

According to the agency, these tracks are designed as a progression of training and application to develop geodesists – think the skills necessary to measure and monitor the Earth to determinate exact coordinates of any point – from incoming track one undergraduate level through a track four end-state of tradecraft doctorate-level leadership.

University education faculty, K-12 teachers, and K-12 teachers-in-training at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Harris-Stowe State University are all invited to participate.

The workshops follow a long list of efforts by NGA to build a talent pipeline from the St. Louis community to the agency – which began with the construction of the new NGA West Campus in St Louis scheduled to be open and fully operational by 2025.

During his keynote speech at Esri’s Feb. 8 Federal GIS Conference in Washington, D.C., NGA Director Frank Whitworth, announced that NGA West has already partnered with eight local universities to build a talent pipeline from the community to the agency.

“I like the direction we’re going. We have serious human capital, and we also have the technological edge as a country so [we have to] find a way to meld the two,” Whitworth said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.