Dean Alvarez: A Future in Computer Science

This high school student’s participation in GEOINT 2018 led to a high-profile internship


When attending USGIF’s GEOINT Symposium, you never know who you will meet and where those connections might lead you. Take, for example, the experience Dean Alvarez, a senior at Strawberry Crest High School in Dover, Fla., had when he attended GEOINT 2018 in Tampa.

USGIF invited Alvarez, then a junior, and three other Tampa area high school students to share their science fair posters during GEOINT 2018’s GEOINT Foreword alongside 22 college students from across the country. Alvarez’s research focused on the “Effect of Various Pooling Methods on Robustness to Adversarial Examples in Convolutional Neural Networks.”

“It was really cool to talk to people who understood what I was doing,” Alvarez said. “I learned a lot, not just from the experience of talking about my poster to professionals in the field, but also from what many of them had to tell me in terms of my research. It was also interesting to hear from the speakers [at GEOINT Foreword] about how they are applying similar technologies.”

One of the attendees Alvarez had the opportunity to share his project with was Jasen Halmes, CACI’s director of artificial intelligence.

“I was attracted to his poster based on the research he was presenting,” Halmes said. “I was very surprised when I learned he was still in high school.”

Student Dean Alvarez (right) and CACI’s Jasen Halmes at GEOINT Foreword 2018.

As a result of their interaction, Alvarez and Halmes exchanged contact information. Following the Symposium, Alvarez interviewed and was selected for a summer internship with CACI as a junior research scientist. Through the internship, he worked with the organization’s computer vision research team and conducted experiments to help advance knowledge of deep neutral network applications to GEOINT challenges. 

“Our team was very impressed with Dean’s abilities,” Halmes said. “I was struck with both his individual contributions and left with the impression that we should do more as a community to foster exposure to our industry technologies. Dean proved that we could be doing a lot more to encourage our future technology leaders.”

Following high school graduation, Alvarez will intern at CACI once again this summer and intends to build upon last year’s experiences by performing his own research experiments. In college, he plans to major in computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence.

  • Students posters will once again be on display throughout GEOINT Foreword 2019. Visit with students during the networking breaks and lunch to learn about their research, then vote for your favorite via the GEOINT 2019 mobile app!

Headline Image: Dean Alvarez (right) shares his research with attendees at GEOINT Foreword 2018.

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