Virginia Space Grant Consortium Project to Build Geospatial Technology Web Portal

The Virginia Space Grant Consortium has been awarded a grant of $894,228 by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program (NSF-ATE) for the Geospatial Technician Education through Virginia’s Community Colleges (GTEVCC) project.  Project partners include the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), John Tyler Community College, Tidewater Community College, Virginia Western Community College, and the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program at Virginia Tech.

The vision of the GTEVCC project is to establish academic pathways in geospatial technology (technologies such as geographic information systems/global positioning systems/remote sensing) at three community colleges in the VCCS that will provide Virginia employers with a larger pool of skilled geospatial technicians. These academic pathways will serve as model programs for other community colleges.

The GTEVCC project will include educational materials development, adaptation, and implementation, and will provide professional development and mentoring for faculty and high school teachers. Each college will develop a certificate program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and update their existing GIS courses and programs to better reflect the employer’s needs. The curriculum developed through the GTEVCC project will be driven by the needs of business and industry in the Commonwealth.

The project team will create and maintain a geospatial technology web portal to serve as a repository for pathway models, curriculum, professional development materials, career awareness materials and other resources.  The project team will also develop geospatial technology career awareness resources and materials to be shared statewide.

“We’re delighted with this NSF grant that will allow our colleges to remain at the cutting-edge of an exciting and growing field, “said Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.  “It’s yet another example of the partnerships that our colleges build with one another, business and industry, and higher education institutions.  Most importantly, this continuing partnership with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium will lead individuals to jobs, and it will reap increasing rewards and workforce development opportunities for communities and businesses across Virginia,” said Dr. DuBois.

Chris Carter, VSGC Assistant Director, states, “The VSGC is honored to lead the GTEVCC effort on behalf of the VCCS, the partnering community colleges, and the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program.  The VCCS has a strong commitment to geospatial technology education and meeting the needs of employers across the Commonwealth. Virginia is lucky to have such a large and dedicated group of professionals and educators in the geospatial technology field. I am very proud of the collaboration and effort of the GTEVCC team that has already accomplished so much through our planning grant.  I look forward to the next three years working with this team.”

The benefits of this partnership are recognized by business and industry representatives. Russell Minich, Principal with the Timmons Group has been a participant on the project since the planning team first met several years ago.  “The NSF-funded GTEVCC project is GREAT news for the partnering community colleges, the VCCS and the Commonwealth.  I really look forward to serving on the advisory committee and providing the business community prospective. We are the major consumers of the community college product, a trained workforce,” Minich stated.

NSF’s ATE program supports the development of technicians in emerging fields, recognizing the need to inspire, motivate, and empower students to develop and achieve career goals. NSF funds ATE projects that focus on developing partnerships between community colleges, other higher education institutions and employers to provide workforce development and education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels.

[Source: Virginia Space Grant Consortium announcement]

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