The National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence located at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY, was founded to expand the geospatial workforce by providing a myriad of services and resources to two-year colleges and educators across the country. Among these services are providing model curriculum and courses, developing standards and competencies, mentoring and providing professional development to educators, and developing a community of practice for both educators and business leaders interested in improving the quantity and quality of workforce readiness in geospatial technology. GeoTech Center’s $3 million, three-year Advanced Technology Education Grant (DUE 1304591) was initially awarded by the National Science Foundation in 2009 and continues through the end of Summer 2016.
GeoTech Center has five primary goals:
- to build a community of practice between professionals from industry, government, and academia
- create and disseminate relevant geospatial curricula and pedagogical tools
- facilitate professional development opportunities for faculty and professionals
- provide geospatial competency assessments, create model course curricula, programs, and additional services through the Center clearinghouse
- support student success in geospatial technology education through the creation of competency protocols, career pathways, and career clusters
This article is the second in a two-part series looking at the services and programs available through the center, and will focus on services provided in support of goals 4 and 5. For more information about the center’s services, see the first article or visit the center’s website, geotechcenter.org.
Geospatial Technology Competency Model
The Geospatial Technology Competency Model framework was developed and released in 2010 through a collaborative effort involving the Employment and Training Administration, GeoTech Center and industry experts. Since that time it has been used by educators, geospatial workers, students and those transitioning into the geospatial workforce to become the standard collection of geospatial skill sets for the industry workforce. Over the course of 2013-2014, GeoTech Center and industry subject matter experts updated the model with guidance from the ETA to reflect the changing knowledge and skills needed by today’s geospatial technology professionals. For information on the modifications and updates from the initial version, download the summary here: http://www.careeronestop.org/competencymodel/Info_Documents/GEOSummaryofChanges.doc
Model Course Content
In order to support an expanded and well-qualified professional geospatial workforce, GeoTech Center has developed a model certificate including core and elective model courses to serve as guidelines for two-year college geospatial programs. The curriculum for each of the model courses focuses on building the skills, competencies, and abilities needed for entry-level occupations in the geospatial industry as determined from the Geospatial Technology Competency Model and outcomes from multiple DACUM, “Developing a Curriculum”, events.
The certificate and each model course were designed to be offered at the lower-division undergraduate level. It is suggested that students have a fundamental understanding and ability to use basic computer functions and programs, including the ability to access data and resources on the Internet. While no prerequisite courses in mathematics, statistics or other sciences are required, basic understanding of algebra and statistics would be beneficial. The courses include resources to help students that do not have mathematical or statistical backgrounds understand and acquire the needed geospatial skills and competencies. The courses are referred to as “models” with the understanding that they can be adapted to the local workforce needs, or can be modified to be used at high schools or upper division levels of four-year universities.
Sequencing of courses is at the discretion of the offering institution, but it is suggested that Introduction to Geospatial Technology be the first course in the certificate program sequence followed by other core courses, such as Spatial Analysis, Data Acquisition Management, and Cartographic Design. Electives can be chosen to suit the interest of the student. Industry experts have recommended that students acquire real-world experience in using geospatial technology and that an internship or other service learning and/or experiential learning opportunity be included as part of the certificate program. One additional spatial thinking and awareness model course was created that can serve as an introduction to geospatial technology for other disciplines across a campus, i.e., a General Education course. While this course is not part of the certificate, it can serve as a feeder course into the certificate program and can be included as an elective so that students can receive credits for completing the course.
Caution should be taken when using individual content from the model courses such that, in some instances, context may be lost if additional content is not included. That is up to the discretion of the user.
While the model courses and all content within are considered Creative Commons, it is recommended that GeoTech Center be acknowledged for the source of the materials. Model course content can be accessed here: http://www.geotechcenter.org/model-courses.html
Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition
GeoTech Center and URISA are pleased to announce a new collaborative effort, the 2015 Undergraduate Geospatial Technology Skills Competition, with the intent to showcase the geospatial technology skills of U.S. undergraduate students. Competing students will create a project that utilizes geospatial technology to address a real-world problem and present their findings during a short video. This video will address project findings and resulting deliverables, and not only highlight their use of geospatial technology, but also demonstrate valuable communication and presentation skills.
Students will be required to present their projects before a panel of judges in order to determine the competitors’ final place ranking. It is anticipated that three of the student finalists will be from two-year colleges and two from four-year institutions. The exact split will depend on the number of students who enter the competition and the quality of the work.
Students who are at least 18 years old, currently enrolled during Spring 2015 in a geospatial technology course at an accredited 2-year or 4-year U.S. institution, and reside within the U.S., are eligible to enter. There can be only one entry per student and only individual student submissions are allowed.
Entries are due by Friday, June 12, 2015 and will be judged by a panel of experienced geospatial professionals. The combined scores from all judges will determine the top five student finalists, who will be awarded a trip to the GIS-Pro & NWGIS 2015: Geography at the Nexus of Collaboration International Conference in Spokane, WA, October 18-22, 2015.
National Geospatial Center of Excellence Staff
For more information about the services and programs provided by GeoTech Center, you may contact the following staff members, who contributed to this series of articles.
· Rich Schultz, Associate Director/Co-Principal Investigator of the National Geospatial Center of Excellence, Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, New Hampshire, firstname.lastname@example.org