Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Higher Education Commission Awards Major Grant to Washington College for GIS Training Programs

Chestertown, MD — Washington College is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $164,511 from the Maryland Higher Education Commission to provide Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) technology training to members of the state's work force affected by Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

In addition to the BRAC Higher Education Grant, Washington College also has been awarded $10,500 from county economic development offices to provide GIS training for teachers and students in Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties. Washington College has also partnered with Chesapeake College, the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, and the Regional Higher Education Center to deliver GIS training to members of the adult workforce in our region to help prepare them for possible BRAC employment.

"Maryland's colleges and universities are the catalysts of our workforce," said Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown. "...These programs will keep Maryland on the path to progress as we continue the work to prepare for BRAC."

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been identified as one of the top 10 high-growth career fields by the U.S. Department of Labor. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency has identified a serious shortage of skilled workers required to support our nation's national defense needs. In Maryland, the Governor's Workforce Investment Board has identified GIS as having a shortage of skilled workers.

These organizations recognize the need to increase the number of youth with interest and knowledge in this STEM related field. In addition, there is a recognized need to train current BRAC employees in GIS.

Washington College is uniquely positioned to address these needs: its GIS Program, run by the Center for Environment & Society, is recognized both statewide and regionally as a leader in the field.

"The Center for the Environment and Society and the GIS Program at Washington College are very excited about this groundbreaking opportunity to work with local high schools on the Eastern Shore to help them establish a strong geospatial technology program that will help prepare their students for exciting new career opportunities in good paying jobs," said Stewart Bruce, GIS Program Coordinator at Washington College.

"We will provide free curriculum and training to teachers and students in Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot County Public Schools. This summer we are holding a camp for students and a camp for teachers that will help prepare them for courses next fall. There is a very small nominal charge to cover incidental expense but the grant pays for all staff, housing and meal costs for the kids."

He added, "This grant would not have been possible without the support of our county economic development partners in Kent, Queen Anne's and Talbot counties. We want to also recognize the Boards of Commissioners in each of these counties for having the vision to see that the future of our economic growth is tied to educating our local students in technology fields."

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December 17, 2008

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