Thursday, October 10, 2013

Getting to know Geospatial Technology

Columbia Area Career Center is proud to be on the cutting edge of technology by offering students coursework in Geospatial Technology and Geospatial Analysis. What exactly will students learn in a Geospatial class? GIS, or Geographic Information Systems is a system for analyzing data using digital maps and database information in order to solve problems or facilitate decision making. Students use ArcGIS software made by Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc (ESRI) to map and analyze data.

This fall, second year geospatial students taking Geospatial Analysis have  been commissioned to create a base map of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Laura Estabrooks' class will use handheld GPS units to collect data about the physical elements on campus;  the buildings, sidewalks, trees, landscaping, sign posts, etc. and create a sample area of about half a city block before continuing on to complete the entire campus. Back in the classroom, they will plot points and lines and use triangulation to make it as accurate as possible. Next, the computer imagery is brought in to verify that everything is correct. How might Stephens use this information? It gives them specific data useful for making decisions like, how much would it cost to replace all the sidewalks? Or how much area of the campus needs mowing? Or other questions that arise that need accurate physical measurements.

How do students benefit from this experience? It gives them real field experience in GIS, and opens doors for future internships. A 2013 graduate of Laura Estabrooks' program is now working with an MU professor using ArcGIS  to model the spread of infectious disease on cruise ships. The freshman is quick to credit Estabrooks and her teaching for this type of opportunity so early in his college career.

While not every graduate of Geospatial will have the same experience, it is certain that time spent in Geospatial Technology is well spent and  will give students a leg up on their peers in whatever field they pursue after graduation.

Geospatial Technology students are eligible to earn 4 hours of dual credit through UMKC. Columbia Area Career Center is the only secondary career and technical school in the State of Missouri to offer this coursework.

For more information on Geospatial Technology click here.

Using the handheld GPS unit to log data

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