Mercyhurst University

You are here

Intel students brief NGA on geospatial research

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

(Contributed by Jonathan Stack, NGA Office of Corporate Communications)

Mercyhurst University students briefed their research findings to National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency senior leaders in Springfield, Virginia, April 13.

The 14 students were from the university’s Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences and presented findings in three areas: urbanization change in Iran; China’s economic relationships over the next 10 years; and the global wildlife trafficking network and changes to it in the next two to five years.

The students briefed during the NGA’s daily operations intelligence brief and received praise from NGA Director Robert Cardillo, who said the students “knocked it out of the ballpark.”

NGA Deputy Director Sue Gordon gave her praises as well.

“We worry about the future a lot here,” Gordon said. “What I don’t worry about is when people like you continue to [choose this profession].”

Gordon said whether the students come and work at NGA or someplace else, they are going to make a difference in the intelligence community.

This is the third year that NGA has partnered with Mercyhurst University on unclassified GEOINT (geospatial intelligence) questions.

Dan Irwin, a student from Canada, remarked that the experience was one of the highlights of his tenure in the applied intelligence graduate program.

“NGA gave us an amazing opportunity to meet intelligence professionals and tour their facility,” Irwin said. “It was definitely an exciting way to cap off our time at Mercyhurst.”

Mercyhurst University is an NGA academic partner, a relationship initiated in July 2013 with a five-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, a written agreement between NGA and non-federal partners for collaborative research. The CRADA partnership provides Mercyhurst’s geospatial students an opportunity to develop appropriate GEOINT instruction for their strategic intelligence program. In addition, the agreement provides students real-world experience in researching and briefing while increasing NGA’s technological and research collaborations.

“The relationship between Mercyhurst and NGA over the last few years has been absolutely fantastic,” said Kristan Wheaton, Mercyhurst University Institute for Intelligence Studies associate professor. “[NGA] has been a great partner – we genuinely appreciate it.”

He said the ability for Mercyhurst University to develop better entry-level intelligence analysts depends on cooperation from the intelligence community, and NGA is just phenomenal.

At the end of the current school semester, Mercyhurst University undergraduate and graduate students will have completed 23 research projects and analytic methodology reports for NGA.

PHOTO: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo talks with Mercyhurst University students during their visit to the agency headquarters in Springfield, Va., April 13. The 14 students visited NGA to brief the agency's senior leaders and subject matter experts on their research. (Photo by Anthony Boone)