Intelligent Decision Making From the Beginning

July 29, 2021
By Julianne Simpson
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Networking, competitions and academic outreach expand intelligence careers.

A crucial part of any association’s success is its young members. The future is much more certain when there is a steady stream of bright young professionals who will continue on the mission of the association.

At AFCEA, the Emerging Professionals in the Intelligence Community Committee is tasked with just that, among other efforts. Also known as EPIC, the committee is headed by Mark Kandra.

Kandra first became involved with AFCEA after attending an Intel and Media panel right after the Snowden disclosures in 2013. “It was an interesting topic and panel, so I started talking to some of the EPIC members, joined the next cycle, got involved in some of the college panels, made friends and business associates, coordinated events, visited agencies and really liked all the opportunities available,” says Kandra.

He also has a small business, WhiLab, which focuses on emerging and disruptive technologies, advanced data analytics and visualization, so AFCEA had a lot to offer.

One of the committee’s biggest sources of pride is its EPIC App Challenge. Led by Niloo Norton and Joel Day, who are both from Microsoft, 2021 will be the fourth year the competition is held as part of the Intelligence and National Security Summit with the Intelligence & National Security Alliance (INSA).

“Last year we had nine teams sign up. Nokia Federal won and matched its $5,000 prize money to create four $2,500 grants for high school STEM teachers. EPIC will review and approve the teacher applications for those grants,” says Kandra.

This year’s problem set will most likely deal with cyber hunting and adversarial AI, he adds.

The committee also does a lot of academic outreach. Though most of the events have been with local colleges, including the University of Maryland, Georgetown and George Mason University. “We are looking at expanding nationwide with the new virtual format,” Kandra asserts.

AFCEA is celebrating its 75th anniversary in the September issue of SIGNAL Magazine. Join AFCEA now to ensure you receive this commemorative issue.

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