The Press Newspaper
For four years, Penta Career Center has demonstrated a focus on GIS (geographic information system) curriculum and giving students GIS skills for community project.
GIS integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. The curriculum was developed by Digital Quest, Inc., a Mississippi-based company with a primary focus of enabling educational institutions to provide skill training in the growing field of Geospatial Technology.
The enthusiasm GIS has generated is evident in a tour of Penta instructor Dan Wyandt’s classroom. The walls are covered in posters created by past students – GIS projects with titles such as Government, Geomorphology, Law Enforcement, History and Health.
“Part of my intention is letting new students and students who are touring the school see the different types of work they can do with this technology,” Wyandt said, noting that GIS goes beyond mapping.
“It is cross curricular and spans multiple real world applications,” he said. To introduce younger students to his geospatial program, he wants to start a GIS club for junior high and ninth-grade students.
The cross curricular aspect of GIS has been very appealing to the students. Once students learn the basic skills and processes, they successfully apply that knowledge in multiple areas of instruction. Wyandt says “I've had a student use GIS for a project in his government class displaying different aspects of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Another one used the software to recreate the 911 scenario in New York. For his history class, another student created time frame maps of the Revolutionary War.”
Students enjoy the “hands on” part of the curriculum and the bonus of being able to use the software and their skills to analyze and solve real world issues, Wyandt said.
Wyandt's students use and hone their geospatial skills, not just within the perimeter of the school, but also within their community, working on diverse projects.
“We have created digital inventories of street and road signs, identified possible problems with runoff water in the Maumee River Watershed, created a digital asset management for a housing facility, and used topographic maps to identify potential ‘sponge’ areas to deter flooding for the Blanchard River Watershed Consortium,” Wyandt said. “We hope to work with a local law enforcement agency this year.”
Students and staff also work to raise awareness of the benefits of geospatial technology and connect education with industry. Each year, Penta hosts a Geospatial Technology Conference with their students and those from schools throughout Ohio – from elementary schools to universities. Wyandt’s students swept first through third place this year in the high school division. Guests from Wyandt's GIS advisory council come in and judge the projects.
Wyandt's students also have the opportunity to participate in the City of Toledo's GIS Day for prizes. His students won first through third places at this competition. Prizes for those students ranged from cash prizes to a round of golf.
Several of Penta students have been able to obtain internships. “I've had three students work for the City of Bowling Green in the engineering office, two students work in Lucas County Auditor's office, and one student who was a paid intern in the Lucas County Emergency Management Service helping them set up their 911 GIS Program,” Wyandt said. Several students are also continuing their geospatial studies in post-secondary institutions.
The students are not the only ones that have received notoriety for their accomplishments. This past school year, Dan Wyandt was invited to speak at the ESRI User Conference in San Diego, Calif.
“It is great to hear that Digital Quest's geospatial curriculum, coupled with the instructor’s skills and enthusiasm can create such enormous opportunities for students,” said Digital Quest President Eddie Hanebuth. “Penta’s motto is ‘Touching lives - building futures.’ Dan is certainly doing that both inside and outside of his classroom.”
To learn more about Digital Quest or their products in this and other career focuses, call 1-877- 5REMOTE (1-877-573-6683) or visit www.digitalquest.com.