Since 2009, the USGIF Young Professionals Group (YPG) has played a major role in advancing the geospatial intelligence tradecraft by empowering the next generation of GEOINT leaders.

The YPG develops programs for K-12 and college students, as well as young professionals, with the mission of ensuring that future leaders will have the drive, innovation, and passion to propel the GEOINT tradecraft forward.

One of the YPG’s latest initiatives is launching a new program designed to empower high school students in the Northern Virginia region. The YPG also brought this new initiative to high school students in the Orlando area during the GEOINT 2012 Symposium in October.

Each year at the Symposium, the YPG hosts a number of events and opportunities for young professionals to network, gain access to GEOINT leaders, and give back to the local community through a service project.

At GEOINT 2012, the YPG took it to the next level with its service project by bringing in 60 students from Orlando area high schools to experience GEOINT innovation firsthand in the exhibit hall.

“These students are special because they are sophomores in high school, which is the perfect age for us to effect change,” said Mike Campanelli, USGIF board member, co-chair of the Young Professionals Working Group, and senior systems engineer with RadiantBlue Technologies. “This opportunity allows them to think abstractly and realize that the GEOINT world is much larger than they think.”

The students who attended GEOINT 2012 were from the Air Force ROTC program at Dr. Phillips High School and the Global Technology Magnet Program at University High School, which prepares youth for career opportunities in technology and the sciences.

Based on the success of the service project at GEOINT 2012, the YPG is confident about its plan to connect with students in Northern Virginia.

Initially, the YPG will target a handful of high schools in Loudon County, where they will work with faculty, administrators, and students to develop the most effective student programs.

“Working together with the schools, we’ll determine which classes will be most appropriate, but we anticipate a broad range from history and civics through computer science and physics, and will advocate as such,” said Eric Zitz, USGIF board member and an associate with Booz Allen Hamilton.

This ambitious new program is the YPG’s  first foray into the high school classroom, said Carrie Drake, who runs the YPG programs at USGIF.

“We believe it’s important to engage with students before they enter college so that we can share our passion and help build theirs,” Drake said. “By doing so, we hope to influence their courses of study and make them aware of opportunities to enter the GEOINT Community.”

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Posted by Matt Langan

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