Lane Community College, Eugene, Oregon
Public information officer: Joan Aschim, (541) 463-5591, firstname.lastname@example.org
For release June 7, 2006
LCC awarded National Science Foundation grant to develop geographic information systems training
EUGENE - Lane Community College has been awarded a three-year grant totaling $782,144 from the Advanced Technological Education fund of the National Science Foundation to develop coursework in geographic information science (GIS) curricula. The first-year award is $280,620 and begins July 1, followed by $269,052 in 2007, and $232,472 in 2008. The grant project, "Mapping, Analyzing and Problem Solving Using Geographic Information Science: Implementing a GIS Curriculum for Technical Literacy," will bring GIS learning opportunities to students in science, social science and computer information technology.
Geographic information systems are mapping and analysis tools used in a growing number of workplace settings. For example, when a power outage occurs, a connected network finds and directs a location-specific response. When a police department analyzes crime data, it uses GIS software to map crime areas. Anything that has a location can be mapped, from the migratory patterns of whales to brain activity.
In Oregon, GIS is used by planning authorities, public utilities, human services, public safety, forestry, geosciences, and bio-resources. Other occupations increasingly use GIS to create visual-spatial representations of data, solve spatial problems, and combine quantitative data with qualitative analysis and reporting capability.
GIS literacy is low. Three Oregon community colleges provide highly technical training for GIS specialists, and four Oregon universities offer courses for upper division and graduate students. Entry-level opportunities are few. "Our project will introduce large numbers of community college students to the potential GIS offers in solving significant social and scientific problems," says grant principal investigator Jane Benjamin.
Lane will address the literacy gap in two ways. GIS activities will be integrated into science and social science courses. The first activities should be in place by spring 2007. In addition, a three-course GIS sequence will be developed for articulation with universities. At the end of the grant period, about 700 students per term will be introduced to GIS through the classroom activities or the GIS courses.
Benjamin, a geography instructor, will work with geology instructor Sarah Ulerick; computer technology instructor Linda Loft; and geography instructor Lynn Songer. The team hopes that the GIS activities will encourage underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These include women, minorities, first-in-family college students, and rural students. Real-world scenarios will demonstrate social and scientific relevance. Collaboration and teamwork will foster the interpersonal and organizational skills that are prized in today's workplace. Benjamin says, "Basic literacy in this rapidly advancing technology will open doors and prepare students with important job skills and future career choices."
Several community partners will serve as advisors on the project, including the Bureau of Land Management, Lane Council of Governments, Weyerhaeuser Company, Eugene Water and Electric Board, Eugene Public Works, Eugene Police Department, Clackamas Community College, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Western Oregon University.