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News at Brookhaven College

For immediate release July 28, 2005.

FARMERS BRANCH/DALLAS  •  New degree and training opportunities at Brookhaven College provide students the potential to find a challenging job that pays well working in one of the top emerging fields - geographic information systems. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Office of Academic Affairs and Research recently approved the colleges new program application in a letter addressed to Brookhaven College President Alice W. Villadsen, Ph.D.

The Geospatial Technology Program will include both credit and noncredit courses for newcomers to the field and experienced professionals needing to learn new software skills with courses beginning in January 2006. The program will be taught at Brookhaven College’s Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute through the college’s science division.

“The U. S. Department of Labor identified geographic information technology as one of the three most important emerging fields along with nanotechnology and biotechnology. Estimates for the growth of this industry have projected the market for GIS at $10 billion for 2005, with a $30 billion market for all geospatial technologies,” said Marilyn Lynch, executive dean for career resources and Title III, who coordinated the new program’s development and application process. “Advancement in technology, enabling greater access to data and increasingly user-friendly software, has allowed for much of the industry’s growth,” Lynch said.

“Students in the program will learn to use GIS application software, gather and correlate GPS data, design databases for storing and retrieving the data and create detailed maps with this data,” said J. Scott Sires, team leader and coordinator for the Geospatial Technology Program. Sires has more than 20 years of experience specializing in spatial documentation, GIS training and applications. During his career, he has worked with telecommunications, local government, state government and commercial clients to offer training and expertise in a full range of GIS services.

A 25-member advisory committee comprised of business, education and industry professionals will provide an avenue for information and contact with the people who are employed in the GIS occupational area. Stuart Murchison, Ph.D., C.P., assistant director for the Survey Division in the City of Dallas Public Works Division, is the chair of the college’s Geospatial Technology Program Advisory Committee.

GIS technology links geography and information through database and global positioning systems technology. Working together, these create a three-dimensional view of location-specific information, layering the information and showing how it relates. GIS technologies help people plan, design, engineer, build and maintain a coordinated system of information that they can use to improve their day-to-day lives. Homeland security, environmental security, health care, land use, social services, emergency management, real estate development and a wide variety of other businesses use GIS technologies. Retailers planning a new site, cities planning new development, social services targeting market segments, transportation companies planning distribution networks and emergency personnel mapping routes are just a few of the uses for GIS technology.

The Geographic Information Systems Specialist associate’s degree program consists of a five-semester course of study for 70 college credit hours, and the level II-certificate program is a three-semester program of 46 college credit hours. The degree program will require students to study many of the same topics as well as advance GIS programming courses and complete an internship.

The Geographic Information Systems Technician certificate program is a level-two program that includes courses in survey and mapping, three-dimensional analysis, GIS application and cartography. The minimum salary for a GIS specialist, with at least an associate degree, is estimated at $38,900 per year, and for a GIS technician, possessing a certificate level of training, is estimated between $25,000 and $30,000 for the Dallas/Fort Worth area by the South Central Arc Users Group. SCAUG is an organization dedicated to the benefit of users of the Environmental Systems Research Institute’s geographic information software in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Mississippi, and Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.

Brookhaven College’s EMGI also trains K-12 teachers on how to use GIS and Global Positioning Systems to combine learning, fun and community service. The institute is the only source for this certified training in Texas. EMGI-trained teachers and their students recently have produced important projects, including a walking-trail map that has been funded for construction by the city of Carrollton. Math, geology, biology, history and a hand-held GPS unit in the hands of these children have produced remarkable results. EMGI staff members plan to offer short classes and camps in GIS/GPS in the future. The Community Mapping Project, produced by the Institute for Technology Development, a NASA business partner, sponsored the sold-out class.