Posts Tagged ‘GIS’

Geospatial Technologies Track Season’s Hurricanes

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Hurricane

Last spring, we wrote about the many ways that Geospatial Technologies impact our daily lives – from navigating unfamiliar neighborhoods to tracking the world’s most wanted terrorist.

For residents of the East Coast, recent daily life has centered on Hurricane Irene, the giant storm that wreaked havoc from North Carolina to Northern New England. And, as we’ve seen, Geospatial Technologies have once again been key, aiding meteorologists in their storm assessments and helping to inform the public about the storm’s path and severity.

From the first signs of a storm’s formation, Global Positioning Systems track the path of a hurricane. The satellite systems carefully followed the storm’s progression, enabling viewers to track the hurricane’s route on a map, like this one featured on MSNBC.com. By making it easy to see the locations where the storm had previously hit and where it was expected to hit, these detailed maps gave travelers and local residents a heads-up on the storm’s path.

Meteorologists also rely on GPS for flood prediction, assessing water vapor content by analyzing transmissions of GPS data through the atmosphere. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricanes can lose strength if they take on large amounts of dry air. Conversely, if moisture conditions are favorable, a hurricane can rapidly gain strength. GPS systems can help in hurricane forecasting, measuring moisture by assessing the time it takes signals to reach and return from a GPS satellite far above the Earth.

And, after a hurricane or another natural disaster has struck, Geospatial Technologies play another important role. According to GPS.gov, GIS (Geographical Information Systems) are used in many phases of disaster management. GIS professionals can provide immediate assistance following a storm or other natural disaster by helping decision makers at the local, state and federal levels to understand the scope of the damage and identifying locations where people may be trapped or injured, or require medical support and rescue.

GPS.gov notes that specific examples of how Geospatial Technology supports disaster relief include rapid identification of potential shelters (schools, libraries, churches, public buildings), identification of supplies and materials necessary for response and recovery, identification of locations suitable for staging areas and incident command posts to provide logistical support for public safety personnel.

Check out ATE’s GeoTech Center website to learn more about the technologies and the wide-ranging career and educational opportunities in the field of Geotech.

And don’t forget to stay on top of the latest storm track– as we write this, GPS systems from the U.S. National Hurricane Center have indicated that Hurricane Katia is moving west-northwest across the Atlantic with Tropical Storms Maria and Nate following closely behind!

Location, Location, Location

Friday, June 17th, 2011

GPS MapIn the world of real estate, the mantra is “location, location, location.” You might say the same of Geospatial Technology.

Almost every aspect of our daily lives has some kind of location component. As Phillip Davis, director of the National Geospatial Technology Center recently noted in an article in U.S. News & World Report, everything from navigating an unfamiliar neighborhood to locating the world’s most wanted terrorist involves Geospatial Technology.

“They couldn’t have found Osama bin Laden without it,” Davis told U.S. News & World Report, referring to the recent U.S. Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden’s compound hideout in Pakistan. “The world is so interconnected today, and everything is based on spatial relationships. It is one of our nation’s essential core tools.”

The article goes on to note that Geospatial Technology specifically refers to equipment used in visualization, measurement, and analysis of the earth’s features, typically involving such systems as GPS (global positioning systems), GIS (geographical information systems), and RS (remote sensing). It is widely used in military applications and homeland security, but is also pervasive in the fields of land use, flood plain mapping and environmental protection.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Geospatial Technology is a high-growth industry in both the public and private sectors (including the telecommunications, utilities and transportation industries as well as federal, state and local governments). There are approximately 600,000 U.S. workers in Geospatial Technology today, a number that is expected to reach more than 850,000 by 2018, according to Davis, a professor of computer science at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas, where the National Geospatial Technology Center is based.

And, as he told U.S. News & World Report, the career possibilities are wide-ranging. “You have people who work in surveying, who map out where a shopping center or street is going to be, and those involved in your local property appraisals. [Geospatial Technology] is also used in law enforcement to locate crimes and for fire response and in disaster management – before, during and after. It is used to locate water resources, or in public health to track the spread of disease. It’s used by the guys who drive around for Google Earth. It’s very high impact.”

You can find more information about Geo Tech careers and educational opportunities at the GeoTech website.

Put Your Geospatial Know-How to the Test

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Are you a Geotech student who is up for a challenge? Want to help boost your resume? And how would you like an all-expenses paid trip to a leading GIS conference this summer?

Intrigued? Well, the first annual National Geospatial Technology Skills Competition could be for you.

The new competition was launched just last month. It’s open exclusively to students over 18 years who are enrolled at two-year community and technical colleges where courses, or degree programs are offered in geospatial technology. There’s no fee to enter and it’s a chance to show off your geospatial skills a to a national audience.

Here’s how it works: The competition is made up of three parts. The first round is a multiple-choice exam to test overall geospatial knowledge. It’s available on the GeoTech website until April 15, 2011.

Participants who score 70 percent or better on the exam advance to the second round. And then the real fun begins.

In this portion of the competition, you really get to show off by creating a software-based project and submitting a short video about the project to YouTube.

Participants choose from one of the following project topics: strategies for environmental sustainability; campus mapping; community demographics; energy; animal habitat; natural disasters; and urban forests.

Entries are submitted by May 1st and a panel of judges selected from the geospatial industry will judge the entries. Six semi-finalists will be selected to move on to the final round – which will be held at the ESRI Education User’s Conference in San Diego, in July. So, if you make it to the Third Round, you not only compete, you get to attend the conference, which is also attended by 14,000 GIS professionals – a great career opportunity.

The six finalists will present their work. First, second and third place winners for the overall national conference will be chosen by the audience.

Check out the GeoTech Center website to register or to learn more about the rules of the competition. Besides being a fun way to hone your skills, the competition could be a great addition to your resume and good preparation for GIS professional certification exams.

Go for it!

ATETV Episode 36: Math & Science = Success

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This week, we learn how a love of math and science can be applied to a challenging career in Laser and Photonics Technologies, talk with a student who is charting a new future in Geographic Information Systems, and hear how one community college is preparing students to meet the growing demand in Alternative Energy Technology.

In our first segment, we visit Central Carolina Community College where students in the Laser and Photonics Technologies program explain why the math skills they gained in high school are so important to their current curriculum.

“We do a lot of math here — trig and trig functions and a lot of algebra,” explains student Katie Renshaw. “I like technology, I think it’s cool and whenever I take placement tests I have good math and science scores, so that was a plus [in choosing to study Lasers and Photonics].”

Adds student Todd Devine, “[I would tell high school students] if you are interested in lasers, focus on your math and science because those are the things that will help you in the laser field. It [involves] a lot of equations and angles and a lot of theorems, so you need to make sure that you remember them and study them.”

Central Carolina Community College’s Gary Beasley agrees. “If you like science and math, then [Laser and Photonics Technologies] is an exciting field to get into. We give students a placement test and if they don’t score high enough to get into the program, they can take courses to increase their knowledge in whatever area [they need] whether it’s a math developmental course or an English developmental course.”

And if you like lasers, the effort will be worth it. “If you’re struggling with math in high school, if you just study hard and work through, it will all pay off,” says Todd. ” [This field is growing] and it’s not going to disappear.”

Another field that offers students a growing selection of career opportunities is in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), as we learn in our second segment, when we talk with Dave Nicholson, a student at Central Piedmont Community College.

“Geospatial technology is taking known location attributes from the real world and putting them on paper and making a map out of them,” Dave explains. The technology is used in a wide variety of applications, and for Dave, his long-time interest in maps has led him to go back to school in search of a new career and a secure future. “When I got out of high school back in the 70s, I ended up going into the Navy.” Since then, Dave explains, he has also worked in commercial electronics, as a radio technician and for a paging company. After being laid off from several jobs, Dave learned about the GIS program at Central Piedmont, and is not only looking to pursue a rapidly growing field, but a field that he thoroughly enjoys.

Finally, in our third segment, we visit Sinclair Community College where a program in Alternative Energy Technologies is preparing students for the explosion of jobs being created in the fields of solar, wind and biodiesel energy.

As employer Mike Traen of Certified Energey Raters, LLC, explains, the country’s growing awareness of the need for responsible energy use has led to tremendous advances in Alternative Energy technologies. “I think that this is important for [everyone] to understand.”

At Sinclair Community College, students are putting their newfound understanding of Alternative Energy to use on their own campus. “Biodiesel fuel has to meet a certain quality standard so that it can be used in equipment without causing damage,” explains Instructor Bob Gilbert. “It became a real educational tool [for us] when our students were able to test the biodieselthey were producing in our college’s own lawn equipment to make sure it was within the required standards.”

And this type of innovative application is beneficial for the students and college alike. As student Senya Oji-Njideka sums up, “I’m glad that Sinclair is so on top of their game.”

ATETV Episode 30: Looking at the Future from a New Angle

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

This week, we look at the ways that ATE programs are helping community college students to see themselves in new roles, and the way that one program is looking at the future from a 3-D perspective!

In our first segment, we talk with Julia Mitchell, a student at Central Piedmont Community College, who has used her interest in maps as a jumping-off point toward a new career.

“I had always worked in administrative office management, and I was looking for a change in jobs,” explains Julia.”Being able to work with maps is something I’d always found interesting.”

And through the Geographical Information Systems [GIS] program at Central Piedmont, Julia is transitioning from a one-dimensional office position to a three-dimensional career perspective. “I’ve taken a variety of other college classes but never completed a full degree program. Now, I’m doing 3-D work with mapping and it’s very interesting.” Julia is currently working as a trainee in the field, and can look ahead to other fields where 3-D mapping is used, including architecture, engineering, drafting and design.

All of these fields emphasize CAD. So, what, exactly, is CAD? In our second segment, we answer that question.

“CAD stands for Computer Aided Design,” explains Laura Lemire of the Community College of Baltimore County. And through CAD, technicians are able to create three-dimensional models to build the likeness of a product, enabling them to look at the model from all angles.

“With CAD, companies benefit from lower product development costs and a shortened design cycle,” adds Laura. CAD is just one example of a high-tech application that’s in demand and that is being taught at community colleges.

In our third segment, we visit with Mike Poitras, a student at Bristol Community College. Like Julia, Mike decided that it was time for a career change.

“I drove trucks,” says Mike. “I thought that’s what I was going to do for the rest of my life.” But then, at age 38, Mike decided that he was looking for more than a job — he wanted to pursue a career that he would truly enjoy.

So, he entered the Environmental Sciences program at Bristol Community College, where he discovered that studying Water Treatment Technology offered him a world of career opportunities. “Water is depleting all over the world and we just have more and more need for fresh drinking water,” says Mike. And although it had been 20 years since Mike studied math and chemistry, he found that with the tutoring and other support provided through Bristol, he was able to quickly get up to speed.

Fast forward four years, and today Mike is working at a desalination plant, an opportunity that emerged through Bristol’s internship program. And, as Mike told us, he was expecting to get his water treatment license within a couple of weeks of our meeting.

“My father always used to tell me that if you like what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. Well [since switching careers], I haven’t worked a day yet.”

ATETV Episode 29:Alternative Paths to a Technical Career

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

This week, we look at alternative programs at community colleges that help high school students to get a head start on their studies — and others that are providing individuals with the opportunity to make career changes later in life.

In our first segment, we look at dual-enrollment programs, which enable high school students to earn college credits. Michael Bucklew, a student at Stark State College studying Electromechanical Engineering, took advantage of this option.

“I took a lot of my core classes while in high school,” explains Michael. “Through the early college program…I took a class learning about different types of energy, and thought it was interesting.” This early exposure helped Michael decide to pursue studies in Fuel Cell Technology at Stark State. “My dad’s an electrician, and he taught me how to enjoy working with my hands, how to build things and take them apart.” At Stark State, Michael is similarly learning the mechanics that lie beneath fuel cell technologies — by taking things apart and putting them back together.

“I would [eventually ] like to see myself working for NASA,” says Michael. And starting with Stark State’s dual enrollment program, Michael has taken his first step on a career path in Space Aeronautics.

In our second segment, we meet student Howard Drucker who, after 35 years running his own company, decided to forge a new career path — with the help of Sinclair Community College.

“I’m 58 years old, studying Architectural Technology and planning a second career,” explains Howard. “My friends were very impressed because quite honestly, they couldn’t believe that at my age I would go back to school. They didn’t think I could do it.”

Howard has not only proved his friends wrong, he’s found a whole new source of inspiration in his classmates at Sinclair. “I found my experience with the younger students very enjoyable. They’re bright, young, excited about getting started.”

Finally, in segment three, we look at a program that helps students find their way — literally and figuratively!

The Geographic Information Systems Technology Implementation Project courses at Del Mar College provides students with opportunities to learn the many applications of GIS and Geospatial Technologies.

” [Students studying GIS] can look at a wide variety of career possibilities,” explains Del Mar’s J.J. Nelson. “Agra, marine sciences, marketing, sales, law enforcement, communications — there’s a geospatial application to [all of these].”

And besides offering a multitude of industry choices, GIS also provides students with options in terms of the type of work environment they would like — whether it be indoors or outdoors, in front of a computer or at a park or a ball field. “When people need to know where things are in a world that’s getting smaller, geospatial technologies and GIS are the way to go,” says J.J.

No matter the course you decide to take, ATE centers can help point you in the right direction. And as this episode has shown, there’s more than one route to your final destination.

GeoTech Center GIS Lesson Plans

Monday, December 7th, 2009


As this week’s episode indicates, GIS — geographic information sciences — is a hot topic right now. But what is all the fuss about — and, more importantly for educators, how do you teach GIS to students?

To answer those questions, we turned to the The National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence; an NSF-funded consortium of academics, government and industry dedicated to growing GIS education. GIS is booming because it has applications across many industries, from green energy and forestry to urban planning and even homeland security. “Any field that needs to know something about what is where, why is it there and how it has changed over time can benefit from using geospatial technology,” explains Ann Johnson, Higher Education Manager for ESRI, a GIS software company and a GeoTech Center partner.

Ann’s company hosts a GIS Education Community online that lets educators share their GIS lesson plans. On the site you’ll find everything you need to prepare a lesson on the real-world applications of GIS technology. Here are three examples of what’s available:

Landslides in Washington – 3D Investigations: Students use GIS software to explore the cause of a massive October 2009 landslide in Washington State.
Scariest Road in the World? Death Road, Bolivia: GIS shows why the notorious “El Camino del Muerte” between La Paz and Coroico, Bolivia is worthy of its name.
Water Use Analysis with GIS: Students learn valuable skills by analyzing actual data from the U.S. Census and other sources.

    You can also visit ESRI’s YouTube channel to see these lesson plans in action. Hopefully these materials will inspire educators reading this to consider adding GIS to their curricula. Thanks again to ESRI’s Ann Johnson and to GeoTech Center Director Phillip Johnson for their help with this post!