Geospatial education for Marines

By February 3, 2015Academics

The Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies at Delta State University has a long history of working with the U.S. Military and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA). The Center was responsible for producing more than 77,000 map sheets in support of the war in Afghanistan and has taught numerous classes about map production for NGA and the Army.

Director of the Center Talbot Brooks has led several research and development projects.

“The exemplary work of the Center has caught the attention and imagination of senior leaders at the Pentagon creating an exciting new opportunity.,” said Brooks.

The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence issued a directive requiring military leadership to develop certification and education programs for professionals working in intelligence disciplines. Recognizing the Center’s excellence in providing geospatial education, the Marine Corps turned to Delta State for help in piloting a program that would be beneficial to all services in meeting this guidance. USMC required that the program meet both regional and emerging U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation accreditation requirements, provide assistance with obtaining professional certifications and licenses, be taught online and be conducted using a community-senior college partnership that would provide students an opportunity to earn associate’s and bachelor’s degrees as well as professional credentials.

“With enthusiastic support from Delta State President William LaForge and Provost Charles McAdams, a partnership with Mississippi Delta Community College (MDCC) was established to create a program of study that would meet these requirements,” said Brooks. “MDCC’s Vice President Reed Abraham and Vice President Brent Gregory and Delta State’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dave Breaux and myself traveled to the Pentagon in Washington, DC to present the plan to Phillip Chudoba, Assistant Director of Intelligence for the Marine Corps.”

The Marine Corps authorized the start of a pilot program whereby 12 senior non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) would enroll at Delta State to evaluate the online courses.

Twelve Marines were admitted to Delta State and began class in January. These students are serving their country at a number of places in the United States, Japan and elsewhere. Initial reactions from these Marines are extremely positive, and their comments are underscoring the strength of the instructional program, the accessibility and responsiveness of University personnel to students and the affordability of tuition. In all, the DSU/MDCC partnership will enroll approximately 600 Marines in the next four years.

Brooks references a study prepared by the Boston Consulting Group that states geospatial technologies contribute $1.6 trillion a year to the U.S. economy and several studies point to its importance here in Mississippi.

“Participating Marines will be well equipped to enter the private sector workforce when they leave service. Many may choose Mississippi as their homes due to their affiliation with Delta State and MDCC and help fill many open positions here in the state where there is a need for skilled geospatial workers.”

“We are thrilled about serving those who serve our country,” said Brooks. “These service men and women give so much to protect our freedom, and we are honored to help them meet their educational and professional goals. Beyond the educational opportunity, both DSU and MDCC hope local students will recognize the importance of studying geospatial technologies and join their military counterparts in the course of study. Studying together will promote the exchange of ideas and experiences between the two communities, strengthening both along the way.”

For more information on the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies, please visit the site or contact 662-588-8649.

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