Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Briana Williams, a student at Fayetteville State University, often recites this quote to herself as she works toward earning her bachelor’s degree and USGIF GEOINT Certificate.
Williams is studying to complete a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with a minor in computer science. Additionally, she is taking the required courses to obtain a GEOINT Certificate as part of USGIF’s Collegiate Academic Accreditation Program.
“My professor and mentor Dr. Rakesh Malhotra was persistent to show me the relation between mathematics and computer science to geospatial intelligence,” Williams said. “Once he showed how they could be integrated, I was hooked. Thanks to a dedicated professor, I have had a surplus of opportunities arise.”
Some of these opportunities include attending events held by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), Esri, and the Southeast Division of the Association of American Geographers. Williams has also interned with ASPRS and most recently served as the deputy networking councilor for ASPRS’ Student Activities Committee, helping the society organize events.
While pursuing her degree, Williams is a Higher Education Research Experience (HERE) intern with the GIS Team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Computational Sciences and Engineering Division. As an intern, Williams is assigned to the Environment for Analysis of Geo-Located Energy Information (EAGLE-I) project—a situational awareness tool used by the U.S. Department of Energy. The interactive GIS platform maps energy assets and systems to bring together a variety of data sources into one visualization tool. Williams has worked on integrating hurricane models into the project’s interface and testing the functionality of new tools available to assist with faster response times following disasters.
“Studying for a USGIF GEOINT Certificate has given me the essential skill set that has been proven to be very useful in my current internship,” Williams said.
Looking toward the future, Williams hopes to earn a doctorate degree in the field of urban geography and to conduct research for the government.
“In addition to research, I would also like to start a nonprofit to serve underrepresented adolescents and introduce them to STEM and the importance of receiving a higher education,” Williams said. “Showing the next generation of scientists and engineers that you can take the world by storm is a goal that is dear to me.”
Williams is slated to graduate in May 2018.