Since 2003, Emily Griffith Technical College has introduced the fascinating science of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to interested students. The program integrates computerized geographic information, satellite images, digital maps, and global positioning systems (GPS) in decision support systems. Spatial issues are analyzed to make decisions such as risk assessment for homeland security, population growth and the best places to live, where to build a new business and more. GIS also prepares students to research changing wildlife habitat, model hurricane evacuation scenarios, view global vegetation coverage via satellite, plan school bus routes, and study water consumption patterns.
The success of this program is due to the strong job market. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics GIS is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing use of maps for national security and local government planning should fuel employment growth. For this reason, job prospects are likely to be excellent for GIS. A partnership with Front Range Community College insures that our students have a pathway to higher education if they choose.
“Having GIS skills means you can work in any industry from Urban Planning to Health. The whole world is literally at your fingertips. You can explore any part of the world, including the universe, in an instant and never have to leave home,” said Terry Partridge, EGTC faculty member and GIS instructor. “GIS can answer such questions as “Where is the best place to start a new business?” or “What home can I buy that is under 100K, located in the lowest crime area, close to good schools, shopping and public transportation?” Any spatial question can be answered using GIS. This is why businesses need those who know GIS. It provides all types of businesses with the information they need to make good choices.”
As part of the learning experience, the EGTC GIS program offers students real-world projects to work on as they learn to use software. In addition to partnerships with the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology, Denver Public Schools and the US Geological Survey, the College is supporting African exploration by Bob Raynolds of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
The venture is called the Lothagam Project. The Lothagam is a paleontological formation located in Kenya, dating back to the Miocene-Pliocene period. GIS students have designed maps that show the location of artifacts found in this region, helping to determine patterns for where the earliest humans came from. Using GIS software, students are creating three-dimensional maps that will be used by the geologists and archeologists in February to locate more remains of the first humans to walk the earth.