Ernest Smiley is the chief data scientist and CISO at Kingdom Capital. He is also the founding CEO of Georgetown Analytics and Technology. His Black Engineer of the Year awards includes the 2017 Scientist of the Year and the 2023 Outstanding Metaverse Chief Technology Officer Award.
His career spans over 25 years, integrating computer systems for the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, defense department health systems, the Intelligence community, and commercial organizations. A true visionary in data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analysis, Smiley’s work has been instrumental in advancing the field and shaping the future. He has demonstrated exceptional leadership, technical expertise, and a deep understanding of the metaverse technology’s potential to change how we interact, communicate, and do business.
“Two people have loomed large in my life, encouraging, influencing, and guiding me,” Smiley said in his acceptance speech at the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Engineering Deans Recognition Program during the 2023 BEYA STEM Conference. “My mother inspired me to become a scientist and an engineer. My brother set an example for me to give back to my community, and he learned from the best. We grew up in Alabama, and my brother lived across the street from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So, I treasured the opportunity to work with youth, helping them find their talent. I’m grateful for this award, for the chance to work in my chosen field of STEM, for my colleagues and mentors along the way, and of course, for boundless gratitude for my mother and brother, whose values and lessons I carry with me always.”
His work also aligns with the event’s theme of engineering resilience as he focuses on building and maintaining robust and secure infrastructure that can withstand unexpected events. In addition, his work has catalyzed the development of new technologies and opened up new possibilities for collaboration and innovation. And on top of all that, he spends time mentoring and building up the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) leaders.
He held many jobs across 17 federal agencies, working together to protect the U.S. He served as a chief data scientist/CTO at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). In 2003, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency became the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The NGA analyzes billions of images and miles of video captured by drones and satellites.
As NGA’s chief data officer, Smiley worked closely with the U.S. Air Force, collecting and analyzing aerial surveillance using unmanned systems. They played a crucial role in gathering U.S. intelligence, including replicating Bin Laden’s compound for SEAL Team Six.
After Smiley graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor of Science in 1988, he joined the U.S. Army in 1990, following a stint with defense contractors in Washington, D.C.
Within five years, Smiley managed more than 40 networking and computer systems engineers supporting information technology combat support for the defense department’s Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA comprises nearly 6,000 civilian employees, over 1,500 active duty military personnel from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, and 7,500 defense contractors.
Smiley’s team managed radios, telecommunications equipment, and secure computers and devices for a network supporting 70,000 military personnel throughout Europe. In addition, they designed network plans for 20,000 military personnel in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Germany.
In 1996, Smiley took on the added responsibility of senior data center manager and network engineer with the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence.
Smiley helped protect national security information and technologies and national security missions in defense, homeland security, cybersecurity, intelligence, and energy security. For example, he was responsible for 30 networking and software engineers supporting the Department of Energy’s nationwide nuclear waste program. They designed and implemented LAN/WAN supporting Sprint customers, remote access services, network security, Cisco Routers, financial web servers, firewalls, and financial trading systems supporting one billion dollars of transactions (per day).
On October 1, 1996, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, or NIMA, was formed to unite all the government agencies involved in cartography. Cartographers collect geographic information to create maps and charts for political, educational, and other purposes.
The National Imagery and Mapping Agency included the Defense Mapping Agency, Central Imagery Office, National Photographic Interpretation Center, and parts of the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office, Defense Intelligence Agency, and National Reconnaissance Office. After September 11, 2001, NIMA took on added responsibilities, including homeland security and assisting the armed forces’ work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, in 2001, when Smiley arrived at the Office of the Secretary of Defense as deputy director and senior security manager, other factors were in play. The Office of the Secretary of Defense is the principal staff element of the Secretary of Defense in the exercise of policy development, planning, resource management, fiscal, and program evaluation responsibilities.
In the OSD, Smiley provided technical support to the defense department Information Technology Security Certification and Accreditation Process, performed network security testing on sensitive information systems, using RETINA, E-Eye Digital Security, and Internet Security System for all network devices in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Smiley was recognized as Scientist of the Year at the BEYA STEM Conference for his contributions to integrating systems for the Department of Defense, warfighters, Intelligence professionals, and first responders. He holds a master’s degree in technology management from Georgetown University, an MBA in finance and accounting, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. He also holds a graduate certificate in Data Science from Georgetown University.
He also holds the following certifications: Certified in the Governance of Enterprise I.T. (CGEIT), Certified Software Analyst (CSA), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Project Manager (CPM), Certified Forensic Consultant (CFC) and Certified E-Commerce Consultant.