USGIF Announces 2023 Scholarship Awardees

by | Jul 31, 2023

Representing 20 different schools, this year’s scholarship recipients share a driving desire to use GEOINT to address critical national security issues, solve complex global issues, and serve their communities.

The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) has selected its 2023 scholarship awardees. USGIF has awarded $125,000 raised from donations by the GEOINT community to 21 students studying geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and related fields of study.

USGIF CEO Ronda Schrenk expressed her gratitude, stating, “The support our community has shown for the scholarship program this year has been truly inspiring for us at the Foundation. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all the organizational and individual donors who have enabled USGIF to maintain and expand this crucial program.”

The 21 awardees were selected by USGIF’s scholarship committee, a group of volunteers from the community with a dedication to supporting the next generation of GEOINTers. The recipients represent a diversity of academic backgrounds and personal experiences that are crucial to advancing the GEOINT field. The 2023 cohort’s expertise covers a broad range of critical GEOINT issues, including:

  • Developing a deep learning model to detect building damage post-natural disaster
  • Mapping sentiments and understanding bias in armed conflict data
  • Monitoring sea ice in the Arctic region for national security purposes
  • Advancing landmine detection with remote sensing and machine learning techniques
  • Combining remote sensing and imagery analysis to study denied areas

While the awardees are studying at universities across the country, representing 20 different schools, they all share a driving desire to use GEOINT to address critical national security issues, solve complex global issues, and serve their communities.

“This scholarship represents more than just financial support; it symbolizes the belief that my potential and aspirations are valued. With these funds, my academic expenses will be more affordable, allowing me to focus wholeheartedly on my studies and research. This scholarship not only benefits me personally but also serves as a beacon of hope for others, demonstrating that anyone, regardless of their background, can achieve these prestigious accomplishments.”

– Joseph Gyegyiri, USGIF Scholarship Winner, Florida Atlantic University

This year, USGIF announced six new recurring scholarships sponsored by USGIF organizational members:

  • AWS Scholarship for Inclusive Leadership in GEOINT
  • Leidos Scholarship for AI/ML Advancement
  • GDIT Horizons Scholarship
  • GeoFutures STL Scholarship
  • Globe Building St. Louis Scholarship
  • Westway Services Group Scholarship for Veterans

These new scholarships join USGIF’s long-standing Stu Shea USGIF Endowed Scholarship, Ken Miller Scholarship for Advanced Remote Sensing Applications, Reinventing Geospatial, Inc. (RGi) Scholarship for Geospatial and Engineering, as well as last year’s new scholarships, the Maxar Scholarship for Diversity and Innovation in GEOINT and the EVONA Scholarship for Diversity in STEM. USGIF also offers general scholarships to exemplary doctoral candidates, graduate students, undergraduate students, and graduating high school seniors.

USGIF has awarded over $1.7 million to students dedicated to advancing the GEOINT tradecraft since the program started in 2004. Past awardees have risen to serve as leaders at GEOINT government agencies and companies, innovate at exciting new startups and small businesses, and some have even become professors, educating the next generation of GEOINT practitioners.

“The impact of past USGIF scholarship awardees on the GEOINT community never ceases to amaze me,” said USGIF Director of Education and Professional Development Christine Devine. “Watching them grow into leaders in the field and start to impact the world as they initially described in their applications is what the whole scholarship program is about.”

The Stu Shea Endowed Scholarship is a $15,000 award for one student studying cartography, geography, or imaging science and was created in honor of Stu Shea, USGIF’s founder and first Chairman. USGIF and Riverside Research partnered in 2016 to create the Ken Miller Scholarship, named after Kenneth W. Miller, who is known as a founding father of measurement and signatures intelligence. The Ken Miller Scholarship is a $10,000 scholarship awarded to a master’s student working in or planning to enter the defense or intelligence workforce. USGIF and Reinventing Geospatial, Inc. (RGi) partnered in 2018 to offer a $10,000 scholarship to an outstanding undergraduate student interested in both the engineering and geospatial disciplines.

The Maxar and EVONA scholarships launched in 2022. Maxar’s scholarship is a $10,000 award to one undergraduate or graduate student who embodies Maxar’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and belonging and brings an innovative perspective to the GEOINT field. EVONA’s scholarship of $10,000 is awarded to one undergraduate student from a diverse gender and racial background pursuing a geospatial, data science, or space-focused degree.

The AWS, Leidos, and GDIT scholarships opened for applicants in spring 2023. The AWS Scholarship is a $10,000 award for an undergraduate, graduate, or Ph.D. student studying a GEOINT-related field who embodies AWS’ commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Leidos Scholarship awards $10,000 to one graduate or Ph.D. student using AI/ML or advanced analytics for geospatial research. GDIT’s scholarship gives $10,000 to a graduating high school senior intending to study a geospatial-related field, with an emphasis on first-generation students, students from diverse backgrounds, and students attending community college.

Three St. Louis-based organizations, Greater St. Louis, Inc., Westway Services Group, LLC, and the Globe Building, also launched scholarships in spring 2023. Greater St. Louis’ Scholarship is a $10,000 annual scholarship for an undergraduate or continuing education student studying geospatial at a St. Louis region institution. Westway Services Group sponsored a $5,000 scholarship for a veteran student studying GEOINT. And a $5,000 scholarship for a St. Louis area geospatial student is sponsored by the Globe Building, a 720,000 square foot high-tech location for data centers, geospatial intelligence firms, and innovative tech enterprise featuring a new 75,000 square foot multi-tenant SCIF.

In addition to these sponsoring organizations, USGIF receives generous donations from individual community members committed to growing the future of GEOINT.

Schrenk highlighted the significance of the scholarship program, stating, “By means of the scholarship program, USGIF can provide support to the most exceptional students aspiring to enter the GEOINT field. This year, we received an unprecedented number of applications, and I am confident that the recipients will bring immeasurable value to our community.”

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