Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: NGA, and Jobs, Are Coming to St. Louis. Will Local Students Be Ready?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: NGA, and Jobs, Are Coming to St. Louis. Will Local Students Be Ready?

Article excerpt

St. Louis stands on the cusp of transformation as plans for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency western headquarters begin moving from the drawing board to reality. The new $1.75 billion NGA complex won't open until 2024, but now is the time to begin preparing local students for the employment opportunities to come. Wednesday, National GIS Day, is a perfect moment to drive home that message.

GIS stands for geographic information system, which is the technology that guides airplanes through the sky and ships through the ocean. It allows Google Maps or your car guidance system to work. It tells Amazon and the pizza guy where to deliver your order. Driverless cars require it. GIS, in one way or another, impacts your life multiple times a day.

The U.S. government relies heavily on geospatial technology to locate terrorist hideouts, direct troops on the battlefield, guide smartbombs or monitor global climate change.

A big, high-paying job market is about to open in this region one that requires technological skills and high levels of motivation. As NGA Director Robert Cardillo writes on our op-ed page, the path to success for future applicants is in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, otherwise known as STEM.

Today's high school and middle school students can reap the benefits of NGA's new phase by preparing now. We know the mindset of teenagers. Distractions abound. The prevailing mantra is: Never do today what you can put off till tomorrow. It's up to their teachers and parents to make them aware of these potentially lucrative opportunities and make sure they maintain a long-term focus.

NGA currently employs 3,150 people at its aging St. Louis headquarters. The new complex in north St. Louis, where preparation work already is underway, will have space for an additional 600 workers. NGA is making room for expansion, and its jobs will go to the applicants motivated enough to begin preparing now.

"The seventh grader today could be an intern when we open the campus" in 2024, Cardillo told the editorial board on Nov. 3. College professors in STEM fields will have new opportunities for partnership and cross-fertilization of disciplines. …

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