I had the odd experience last night of having not one, but two women, both working on master’s degrees come up to me bubbling over with excitement about GIS. One had played with Zillow.com, she working on affordable housing issues in a section of Boston. The other had seen a GIS demo where a tool calculated the percentage of different minorities in an area, helping to figure where it was best to sample for certain types of people. She studying public health and taking a GIS course. Both had the same sorts of questions/issues: how can I get data, our project has no money, is there “GIS for dummies”, etc. We are having a “GIS breakfast” next week to get them started.
What floors me about this is these are two random people who just happen to be in my 400 person running club and are agog about GIS, which is great. Clearly, they both see the potential for GIS in their work. Here’s the part that scares me: they are in reputable programs but don’t seem to have the resources they need. On the other hand, with busy grad school lives, perhaps they simply haven’t been inspired enough to push a bit farther with their schools?
I was pleased this morning to read about a burgeoning GIS certificate program in Idaho. It’s grown considerably since inception in 2002 and may even begin offering day instead of night only classes. Even better news: some 25% of students have their way paid by employers. That suggests that employers “see the benefit.” The article even goes into such detail as to note, “Program credits also count toward professional GIS certification, which is awarded by the Park Ridge, Ill.-based Urban and Regional Information Systems Association.” I believe certification is conferred by GISCI.