Student shares thoughts on talk from director of National Geospatial Agency

Bernard Garwig, Sports editor

For Intel, the future lies in S.T.E.M.

This past Friday, students within the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences had the privilege of going to hear Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial Agency (NGA), speak.

In Director Cardillo’s speech, or sales pitch as he described it, he outlined what the NGA’s purpose is.

He also described the types of students that he is searching for internships and positions in the NGA.

As for myself, as an Intelligence Studies major, what struck me the most about the event was Robert Cardillo’s repeated focus on positions and careers involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or S.T.E.M. for short.

Multiple times in his talk, Cardillo outlined how majors such as Data Science had surged on his list of the NGA’s workforce background.

Anyone following recent news or the events of the past two years knows how much of a spotlight has been put onto Big Data.

Big Data, for those who do not know, is the common term used to describe vast quantities of collected information.

Much media and public attention has been placed on the misappropriation and misuse of such data, such as with the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year.

However, companies and agencies like the NGA are increasingly putting out the call for people that can make sense of massive amounts of collected information.

It’s not that Director Cardillo’s desired student can’t or does not exist at Mercyhurst.

The fact is, Mercyhurst University has and is currently responding to what is clearly a workforce trend.

Despite being primarily known as a liberal arts school, Mercyhurst University has repeatedly responded to what the NGA and other agencies are looking for.

They have done this by first creating a Data Science master’s program, followed by Cyber Security grad and undergrad programs, as well as a Data Science program for undergraduates.

The Intelligence Studies major itself had a preexisting computer track for students to focus on, but these new programs give even more opportunities and avenues for students to follow and learn within.

All this is being done to ensure not only that Mercyhurst University remains a competitive university, but that the graduates that are being produced here can meet the growing demands of the market.

Despite the heavy focus on technology in the event, Director Cardillo emphasized that there is still an incredibly deep need for the more traditional and old school Intelligence Studies.

The NGA is not looking to fire Imagery Analysts.

Nor are they looking to fire others with Cultural Studies, Political Science, or History backgrounds.

There is still great room and importance for people of these expertises.

Most importantly of all, Director Cardillo emphasized to the attending audience the enduring importance of the human element in his field of work.

No artificial intelligence or computer can make the same analysis and judgments in his field that the human analyst can make.

Overall, the event gave me a lot to consider.

I hope that Robert Cardillo’s talk gave others much to think on as well.

But if nothing else, Director Cardillo’s visit to Mercyhurst University was a solid reaffirmation of the respect that Mercyhurst University has both in the Intelligence Community and beyond.