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Educating the Next GIS Generation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lisa Stone   
18 July 2008
What do Starbucks, Wal-Mart, the U.S. Military, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and NVision Solutions have in common? They all hire Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialists to solve spatial problems. Read on to see howNVision Solutions helps these organizations as well as many others use GIS technology in new and innovative ways to address modern challenges.

Starbucks and Wal-Mart need GIS analysts to identify where new stores should be built. The U.S. military employs GIS analysts to map out troop and equipment movements. The Mississippi Department of Transportation uses GIS to assess the safety of the roads that we use every day. NVision Solutions helps these organizations as well as many others use GIS technology in new and innovative ways to address modern challenges.

This summer two members of Mississippi’s geospatial industry cluster, NVision Solutions and Digital Quest,are working to better prepare GIS analysts for careers in the geospatial industry. Five high school students, trained using an educational program designed by Digital Quest, are currently working at NVision for the summer, with another three interning at the Hancock County office.

Last year, summer college interns built a Geographic Information (GIS) for the Port of Bienville. This year, the high school students will create the foundation for a GIS for the Stennis Technology Park. The students will take the first two floors of the Tech Park’s design and create an "as-built" plan of the building's third floor. The first two floors are identical and match the original floor plans, but NVision dramatically changed the third floor during construction by adding a conference room, server room, and modified office layouts. The students will make a digital version of the paper floor plans which will be used to make a digital third floor plan.

They will use the digital plans to build a 3-D model of the building and geo-reference it to aerial photos. The completion of the project will allow the Tech Park operators to use the model to create a 3-D walkthrough of the building for online use as a tool to help market the Tech Park.

So who are these students, where are they from, and what brings them together?
Five have a common link through SpaceStars (Spatial Projects and Community Exchange / Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing), a certification program for entry level GIS/RS technicians. “Using the STARS certification, along with on-the-job training, creates a knowledgeable and experienced geospatial worker, a strategy that will benefit both the employee and the employer,” said Eddie Hanebuth, President of Digital Quest. He further added, “This successful program is being used in 18 other states including Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida.”

 Ashley Smith, a junior at Gulfport High School, has recently been certified as a GIS technician under the S.T.A.R.S. certification program at Gulfport High School. Her knowledge in the GIS field qualified her for a summer internship at NVision Solutions. Ashley plans to attend college to study in the GIS and social science fields.

 Hayley Murks, a junior at Gulfport High School, took a GIS/Remote Sensing class and is S.T.A.R.S. certified. She says this summer internship will help determine her plans after she graduates from high school.

 Katye Miller took two Geographic Information Systems classes at Gulfport High School and is S.T.A.R.S. certified. Katye also completed an extensive GIS project consisting of mapping every interior and exterior feature on the Gulfport High School campus. She plans to take the knowledge she’s acquiring at NVision to Mississippi State University after graduation.

 Miranda Storie is 15 years old and has taken a SpaceStars class for the last 2 years. She learned how to use ArcMap, a way to build maps and started ArcCatalog, used for map modification in the first year of her spatial classes. In the second year she continued with ArcCatalog and learned how to use ArcScene, used to make any 2-D map into a 3-D map.

 David Bupp, a senior at Sarasota High School in Sarasota, Florida, has a background in computer technology and web design. His interest is in the programming and computer science fields and he is currently helping with a web project as a Quality Assurance Analyst. David, whose two older brothers Kevin and Chris are employed by NVision, hopes many of the skills he learns from NVision will help him teach and design in the future.

 Kasey Schultz is a recent graduate of Long Beach High School. Kasey will attend the University of Miami in the fall where he plans to double major in Biochemistry and Marine science along with a minor in Spanish. He is in the Honors Program at the University of Miami as well as the Pre-Med program. Kasey has an interest in computers and is using his internship as a gateway to the field of Computer Science. He will also be exposed to a number of different geospatial projects during his summer with NVision.
 Tim Wigginton has received his S.T.A.R.S. certification and is a junior at Gulfport High School. Tim took two GIS/Remote Sensing Laboratory classes in which he covered ArcView 8.2 and extensions image analysis, spatial analysis, and 3-D analysis. 

 Hilary Herr whose older brother, J.J. works for NVision, is a recent graduate of Long Beach High School. She plans on attending Mississippi State University this fall where she will major in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, with a Pre-Veterinary option. Hilary plans on attending MSU’s Veterinary School after she receives her degree in Wildlife and Fisheries. Hilary joined NVision Solutions this summer for the work experience and enjoys working with her friends, new colleagues, and her brother.

Lisa Stone is the Associate Director, Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions www.eigs.olemiss.edu

Last Updated ( 20 July 2008 )
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