Penn State graduate students win award in geospatial intelligence

June 21, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A team of Penn State graduate students recently received the 2018 Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence, a Penn State endowed scholarship award, for work they did during a geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) course offered though the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.

Recipients were Justin Hoesman, special agent in training for the National Nuclear Security Administration; Daniel Steiner, owner of Orion Mapping; and Ericka Sterns, deployment manager for a telecommunications company. They were honored at United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s (USGIF) annual symposium in April.

“Dan, Ericka, and Justin were selected for the award for their outstanding performance as team leads for a graduate research seminar regarding ‘Comparative GEOINT Education Between the U.S. and U.K.,’” said Stephen Handwerk, assistant teaching professor and manager of GEOINT Professional Engagement and Outreach at Penn State’s John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.

A summary of the team’s work can be found in the article “Individual Core Geospatial Knowledge in the U.S.: Insights from a Comparison of U.S. and UK GEOINT Analyst Education,” which was published in USGIF’s 2018 State and Future of GEOINT Report.

Steiner served in the U.S. Army for seven years with assignments in Germany; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and as a combat engineer company commander in the 24th Infantry Division during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and recently completed the master’s degree in geographic information systems with a GEOINT focus.

“The award holds special meaning to me as an Army veteran, new Penn State MGIS graduate, and with great respect for Lt. Murphy,” Steiner said.

Sterns lives in Rochester, New York, and earned a bachelor’s degree in GIS from the State University of New York College at Cortland. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in GEOINT, which she will complete this August.

“Geospatial intelligence is an up-and-coming field that does not have much exposure right now, but Penn State programs bring much attention and interest to the future of this field,” Sterns said. “Receiving the Michael Murphy Award was an amazing experience and I am forever grateful to my team and professors who made this possible.”

Hoesman is a former reconnaissance Marine and scout sniper with multiple combat deployments. He’s worked in federal security and intelligence for the past dozen years, performing intelligence and counterterrorism operations. Through the Dutton e-Education Institute, he completed his master’s degree in homeland security GEOINT in 2017.

Geospatial intelligence graduate programs are offered online through Penn State World Campus in partnership with the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences’ Department of Geography and Dutton e-Education Institute.

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about geospatial graduate programs.

The Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence is sponsored by the DigitalGlobe Foundation; USGIF; Todd and Barbara Bacastow; Alan W. Scaroni, dean emeritus of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; and Richard DiEugenio, former special assistant to the president for governmental affairs in Penn State’s Office of Governmental Affairs.

Murphy is honored through the Penn State Veterans Plaza, a gift of the class of 2011 located near Old Main on the University Park campus. It was created to honor all Penn State veterans, and the plaza’s curved wall is specifically named to recognize Murphy, a member of the class of 1998 and the first University alumnus to be awarded the Medal of Honor. A Navy SEAL, Murphy received this singular distinction posthumously for his courageous actions in 2005 during the war in Afghanistan.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 21, 2018