November 13, 2012 -- Perrsyburg, OH -- Building on four years of commitment to GIS in the classroom, Penta Career Center has begun its fifth year and it looks to be brighter than ever. A tour of Penta’s Instructor, Dan Wyandt’s classroom, is evidence enough of the amount of enthusiasm GIS has generated among the students. The walls are covered in posters created by past students showing GIS projects with large headers above them with titles such as Government, Geomorphology, Law Enforcement, History, and Health. "Part of my intention is letting new students and students who are touring the school see the different types of work they can do with this technology," said Wyandt. He stresses the essential idea that GIS goes beyond mapping. It is cross curricular and spans multiple real world applications. To introduce younger students to his geospatial program, he wants to start a GIS club for junior high and ninth grade students.
The cross curricular aspect of GIS has been very appealing to the students. Once students learn the basic skills and processes, they successfully apply that knowledge in multiple areas of instruction. Wyandt says, "I've had a student use GIS for a project in his government class displaying different aspects of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Another one used the software to recreate the 911 scenario in New York. For his history class, another student created time frame maps of the Revolutionary War".
When you couple Penta’s use of Digital Quest’s STARS Curriculum with the school’s instructor having such an infectious enthusiasm to develop creative students and a future workforce, the work will likely have a lasting impact on the industry. Students really enjoy the "hands on" part of the curriculum and the bonus of being able to use the software and their skills to analyze and solve real world issues.
Wyandt's students learn the value of using their geospatial skills, not just within the perimeter of the school, but also within their community. Over the duration of the course, Dan's students have worked with agencies and groups within the community on diverse projects. “We have created digital inventories of street and road signs, identified possible problems with runoff water in the Maumee River Watershed, created a digital asset management for a housing facility, and used topographic maps to identify potential "sponge" areas to deter flooding for the Blanchard River Watershed Consortium," Wyandt adds. "We hope to work with a local law enforcement agency this year."
Students and staff also work to raise awareness of the benefits of geospatial technology and connect education with industry. Each year, Penta hosts a Geospatial Technology Conference with their students and those from schools throughout Ohio - from elementary schools to universities. The conference provides a great opportunity to network with colleagues and participate in competitions displaying their geospatial projects. Wyandt's students swept first through third place this year in the high school division. They have local geospatial guests from Wyandt's GIS advisory council come in and judge the projects. Typically, one of the guests will be an astronaut from NASA's nearby Glenn Research Center. These professionals know firsthand how important effective geospatial skills are and also have a keen understanding of the need for a well-prepared workforce.
Wyandt's students also have the opportunity to participate in the City of Toledo's GIS Day for prizes. His students won first through third places at this competition. Prizes for those students ranged from cash prizes to a round of golf.
Several of Penta students have been able to obtain internships. "I've had three students work in the City of Bowling Green in the engineering office, two students work in Lucas County Auditor's office, and one student who was a paid intern in the Lucas County Emergency Management Service helping them set up their 911 GIS Program. Two of my students are returning this semester knowing that they have internships waiting for them in the Spring,” Wyandt said. Several students are also continuing their geospatial studies in post secondary institutions with students studying GIS at Ohio State University, Columbus State, Rhodes State, Central Piedmont, and Bowling Green State University.
The students are not the only ones that have received notoriety for their accomplishments. This past school year, Dan Wyandt was invited to speak at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego, California. This is a privilege that only a few educators are selected for each year.
"It is great to hear that Digital Quest's geospatial curriculum coupled with the instructor's skills and enthusiasm can create such enormous opportunities for students," said Digital Quest President Eddie Hanebuth. "Penta's motto is 'Touching lives - building futures'. Dan is certainly doing that both inside and outside of his classroom."
To learn more about Digital Quest or their products in this and other career focuses, call 1-877- 5REMOTE (1-877-573-6683) , email Email Contact, or visitwww.digitalquest.com. President of Digital Quest, Eddie Hanebuth, twitters as GISGuy.
Digital Quest, Inc. is a Mississippi-based development and training oriented company with a primary focus of enabling educational institutions to provide skill training in the new and ever-more vital field of Geospatial Technology. Digital Quest is an active member of the EIGS geospatial technology cluster of the Magnolia Business Alliance (MBA). MBA’s goal is to impact economic development by serving as an advocate for small and medium sized businesses. Digital Quest is headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi and operates the SPACESTARS Geospatial Training Laboratory at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.