Virginia Western Community College is partnering with colleges throughout Virginia to help develop the state’s workforce in the growing geospatial industry. The geospatial industry, encompassing geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing, and the emerging technologies and applications that support the collection, analysis, and interpretation of spatial data, is a rapidly growing yet understaffed field.
The project is called Geospatial Technician Education Through Virginia’s Community Colleges (GTEVCC). In addition to Virginia Western, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, John Tyler Community College, Tidewater Community College and the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program, based in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment, are helping ensure the burgeoning needs for geospatial workers are met.
Two one-week workshops from May 21-26 will provide community college faculty and high school teachers with professional development in geospatial technology. Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program, the workshops are being held on Virginia Tech’s campus and coordinated by Tech associate professor John McGee, a Virginia Geospatial Extension specialist.
“It is critical to the state’s future that we provide a literate geospatial workforce,” McGee said. “In 2010 alone the sales of geospatial services increased to $4.4 billion. Industry analysts anticipate that geospatial software sales and related services will approach $5 billion in 2011.”
McGee’s workshops last year generated new geospatial technology courses at the both the community college and high school level, and this year’s workshops are already at capacity. Participants will receive hands-on training in GPS, GIS and remote sensing, including classroom-ready materials and geospatial data for Virginia and their local area.
“These workshops are great because they bring together pre-college, higher education, and geospatial industry leaders to build a strong cohort of educators committed to preparing geospatial technicians to meet workforce demand in Virginia,” said Chris Carter, deputy director of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium.