The nonthesis master’s degree at Purdue has trained hundreds of employees of NGA and its precursor agencies in its 50 years of existence. In addition, several individuals received doctorates and went on to become technical leaders within the agency.
NOAA National Weather Service
The National Weather Service (NWS) issues weather forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property. Weather forecasters fuse results from dynamic model projections, weather images from radars or satellites, ground observations, spotter reports, and their own understanding of storm evolution and atmospheric dynamics to determine the timing, duration, and spatial extent of the warning. The need to discern actionable weather intelligence under tight time pressure mimics what is needed for geospatial intelligence. Moreover, weather information and technologies are innately geospatial, and the skills needed to prepare a weather forecast and issue a warning (e.g., information synthesis, situation awareness) are similar to those needed by NGA scientists and analysts. Thus, NWS training may be a useful model for NGA training, particularly in the areas of forecasts, GEOINT fusion, and geospatial analysis.
The NWS operates three training facilities, including the Warning Decision Training Branch in Norman, Oklahoma. The warning decision facility provides in-residence training workshops and distance learning modules on weather radar operations, particularly the integrated data environment, warning methodology, situation awareness, and decision making.10 In the advanced warning operation course, students are taught the theoretical underpinning of situation awareness, then are given exercises, developed from past weather events, to simulate severe weather operations. These exercises allow students to practice advanced warning concepts in an operational context under different severe weather scenarios. The curriculum is adjusted each year to respond to changing NWS strategic goals and operational requirements and to incorporate the results of evaluations of previous training (NWS, 2008).
Some U.S. military colleges and universities offer classes or degrees in geospatial topics, often in the context of intelligence or national defense. The U.S. Military Academy offers a bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental engineering, with courses related to environmental geography, human geography, cartography, and geographic information science. The U.S. Air Force Academy offers a bachelor’s degree in geography, with courses in remote sensing, political geography, human geography, cartography, and spatial analysis. The other academies provide some geospatial training within other programs (e.g., ocean science, strategic intelligence and homeland security). At the graduate level, both the Naval Postgraduate School and the Air Force Institute of Technology offer geography courses and courses that use GIS and human geography technologies, although neither has a degree program in this area. Because students generally go into service following graduation, their formal training can be outdated by the time they enter the workforce. However, their experience within the services commonly refines and updates their applied geospatial skills.
Short courses and conference workshops offered by professional societies (e.g., Table 6.1) and other nongovernmental organizations provide immersive, short-term training on a variety of geospatial topics of potential interest to NGA. For example, the Association of American Geographers (AAG) hosts workshops on software applications for geospatial analysis. Geospatial technology workshops are led by credentialed experts and typically run a half or full day as part of the annual conference program. The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) offers numerous remote sensing workshops and webinars each year. The workshops and webinars in 2011, for example, focused on hyperspectral and lidar instruments and on accuracy assessment. Some of these