University departments commonly rely on external reviews to obtain feedback on past performance and ideas for future directions. The reviews can be formal or informal, and they are carried out by visiting committees of independent experts on a schedule that allows ongoing course corrections. External reviews could provide similar benefits to the NGA College.5 Understanding strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum or faculty would help NGA College administrators ensure that the curriculum remains up to date and that the teaching staff are of the highest caliber. For the review to be independent, members of the review committee would not be associated with the college, but would be familiar with its goals and curriculum. Evaluators could be drawn from universities, professional societies concerned with geospatial science and technology (e.g., Table 6.1), and/or various branches of the armed services.
Workshops at Professional Society Meetings
Many national conferences include workshops, seminars, and training courses on specific topics, which provide an opportunity to bring NGA employees up to date on new developments. Setting up workshops and seminars is usually simple, requiring only a workshop organizer, credentialed instructors, and a mechanism for promoting the activity and registering students. By careful targeting (e.g., training in emerging areas), and by expending only small amounts of funds, it should be possible to send employees to the right workshops or to encourage the development of workshops taught by academics to meet NGA workforce needs.
An example of a venue that offers opportunities for workshops and other kinds of training in the emerging areas is the annual GEOINT Community Week, which is hosted by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF). The conference includes workshops, such as the 2011 workshop on analytic transformation, which covered emergent technologies and analytical methods. To date, most of the workshops and classes have been led by government and industry instructors, but supporting university faculty to conduct workshops would bring new ideas and learning to the geospatial intelligence community beyond the technology training provided by industry, as well as expose more university faculty to NGA programs.
Organizations can find qualified candidates by recruiting at universities or events (e.g., job fairs, professional society meetings) and by being highly visible to the public. NGA’s small size and intelligence mission minimizes its public presence. Increasing awareness of the agency and using new approaches to find candidates with desired skills could increase the number of qualified applicants for NGA positions. Previous chapters discussed where NGA could look for candidates with geospatial skills (e.g., see “Recruiting” in Chapter 5 and Tables A.1–A.10, Appendix A). Some possible mechanisms for increasing awareness of NGA for recruiting purposes are described below.
Sessions at Professional Society Meetings
Professional society meetings and conferences are a primary means for professionals to learn about breaking research developments and to showcase their own research results. Such sessions also increase community awareness of what organizations such as NGA are doing and creates opportunities for recruiting. Employees of NGA and its predecessor organizations commonly make technical presentations at professional society meetings. For example, the Institute of Navigation has been an important venue for keeping users informed about changes in the DOD World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS 84), which provides the reference coordinate system for the Global Positioning System and the reference frame upon which all geospatial intelligence and other geospatial applications are based (e.g., Swift, 1994; Malys et al., 1997; Cunningham et al., 1998; Merrigan et al., 2002; Wiley et al., 2006). Professional society meetings also played a key role in enlisting the help of the community in evaluating various components of WGS 84 (e.g., Ture, 2004). Such community interactions, especially with students, could be leveraged to help recruit new employees.
5 According to a May 23, 2011, presentation made by Mark Pahls, Chief of Learning Integration at the NGA College, classes are not formally assessed and new directions are determined in consultation with a learning advisory board.