GIS Technology: Mapping, Data Management, and Work-Based Learning Across Industry Sectors
Geographic Information System (GIS) skills are needed for jobs in many fields. GIS combines cartography, spatial analysis, and data management to support research and inform decision-making. Computer programmers or database administrators need GIS expertise to maintain or program databases containing geographic information. Mapping technicians apply GIS concepts when creating maps and charts. GIS is also used in city planning, developing marketing strategies, addressing public health concerns, and conducting geographic research. The use of GIS in many fields opens new employment options for students. Despite these employment needs, only four GIS certificates were awarded in the South-Central Coast Region of California between 2012-2015, all by a single community college that is 200 miles from San Luis Obispo, where Cuesta College is located. Since adequate GIS training is not currently available in the region served by Cuesta College, this project aims to meet the high-demand workforce needs across multiple industry sectors for Geographic Information System (GIS) Technicians.
This project establishes a GIS Analyst certificate at Cuesta College, a Hispanic-Serving Institution. Activities include outreach, and project-based and work-based learning designed to motivate more students to enroll in specialized GIS courses. This increased enrollment is expected to increase the number of students, particularly Hispanic students, who earn a GIS Analyst certificate. The certificate will be part of the Earth and Ocean Science program but may appeal to students who seek to add GIS skills to other degrees, such as engineering or computer information systems. Through seminars related to use of GIS in these and other fields, the project aims to engage faculty from different fields in the GIS project. The GIS Analyst certificate is also expected to appeal to workers who need to learn GIS skills to advance in their careers or to become competitive for a new job. The GIS Analyst certificate requires the addition of three new courses, which will be based on models developed by the GeoTech Center with funding from the National Science Foundation. Regional employers will contribute to the development of the curriculum and provide work experiences for students. Students enrolled in GIS courses will have the opportunity to attend the Environmental Systems Research Institute Users Conference, earn industry-recognized credentials, and display their projects at a local GIS event. By June 2021, the project aims to enroll forty students in GIS courses and projects that ten or more students will earn the GIS Analyst certificate.