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St. Louis Organization To Expand Geospatial Training For High School Students

Drawings by a joint venture between McCarthy Building Companies and HITT Contracting show an aerial view of the new western headquarters of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in north St. Louis.
Provided | McCarthy-HITT
Zekita Armstrong Asuquo, Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliance Academies president, hopes the partnership with Leidos will encourage more students to pursue careers in the geospatial field or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (above).

A St. Louis organization is expanding its geospatial education program.

Gateway Global American Youth and Business Alliance Academies is partnering with engineering company Leidos to add more than 100 students to Gateway Global’s “Entry to Executive” program, which helps prepare students for entry-level geographic information system and geospatial jobs.

“It will open up opportunities for internships for mentorships and other entry-level job opportunities,” Gateway Global President Zekita Armstrong Asuquo said. “It will help to put them on a pathway where they can see how geospatial science and technology converges with other sectors that they might be interested in.”

The organization offers classes in the University City and Ferguson-Florissant school districts and KIPP charter schools. Leidos will sponsor groups of students joining the program. It also works with school districts across the state.

“Global Gateway represents three vital components to building the workforce of the future — education, inspiration and innovation,” Leidos Intelligence Group President Vicki Schmanske said in a press release. “By providing early exposure to STEM programs and training, [the program] accelerates and expands the career journey for students and exposes them to a wide range of career paths across the intelligence community.

Gateway Global teaches several cohorts of about 15 students throughout the year. Armstrong Asuquo said the partnership will allow doubling the size of the groups and teaching more than 100 students across the St. Louis region this year.

Geospatial and geographic information system jobs are becoming more important in transportation, agriculture and national security industries, said Armstrong Asuquo, Gateway Global's founder. Students need to be prepared for these opportunities in the coming years for the United States to remain globally competitive.

“It’s imperative that we find innovative ways to skill our young people and to get them on pathways sooner rather than later,” Armstrong Asuquo said.

She said teaching high school students geographic information system essentials will also diversify the workforce.

“The United States has a skills gap issue, and this is one of those issues where we need to have more diversified talent, both racially and socioeconomically.”

Armstrong Asuquo hopes to later expand the program beyond Missouri.

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.