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NSF awards Germanna, VT, ODU grant to develop coursework for Geospatial and unmanned aircraft systems training

From Germanna Community College:

Germanna Community College has been awarded a $561,000 National Science Foundation grant to partner with Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University and the Virginia Space Grant Consortium to develop coursework to train students in geospatial technology.

“With this NSF grant, we will be developing coursework in Geospatial Technologies and Unmanned Aircraft Systems, including an online drone pilot course and a course in UAS image analysis,” said GCC Prof. Shawn Shields Lyons. “Other coursework will be developed as determined necessary by our community partners.

“We will also develop two stackable career studies certificates; one in Geographic Information Systems and Data Analytics, and another in Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” Shields Lyons said.  “We will be teaching faculty from various disciplines to fly drones and integrate geospatial/UAS applications into their courses as appropriate.”

Careers for students who complete career studies certificates include entry-level technician positions in geospatial technology, which generally include job titles such as geographic information systems technician, survey and mapping technician, geospatial information specialist, spatial data technician and similar jobs.

“They would also prepare graphic representations of the data and perform some degree of analysis to identify spatial relationships and then display results using maps, graphs, or tabular data,” Shields Lyons said. Since job titles for these positions vary widely and are becoming increasingly non-specific, it is important to note that they most often include GT and UAS followed by words such as technician, operator, operation technician, pilot, mechanic, system or sensor integrator, data technician, and data informatics.

“Students will also have opportunities to participate in Service Learning projects related to GT and UAS,” she said.

Internships for students will also be available.

Shields Lyons is Germanna Co-Principal Investigator and Co-Faculty Leader for the project, and Prof. Diana Merkel is Senior Personnel/Co-Faculty Leader. The Germanna Center for Workforce’s Ben Sherman is Subject Matter Expert and Workforce Coordinator.

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