AREA GIS Day Held at HCDE Helps Teens Map-Out Career Futures

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November 14, 2019 by HCDE-Texas

Geographic information systems, or GIS, is the mapping bedrock used in meteorology, city planning and medical fields. Houston Area GIS Day held Nov. 14 at Harris County Department of Education allowed 140 high school students the chance to learn about growing career opportunities in the field of GIS.

“GIS is new and exciting, and it’s a very stable job to have,” said Nicole Ceranek, coordinator for the event and GIS manager for Montgomery County.

Although GIS isn’t a core curriculum in Texas, several schools incorporate the mapping software from Esri in their class offerings. Waltrip High School in Houston Independent School District provides a three-year GIS track which culminates in a GIS practicum with area companies.

“What teens can expect in GIS is to analyze data and problem-solve,” said Ruby Blackmon, GIS instructor for Waltrip.

GIS is used to study migration of diseases such as mapping of the Zika virus, a project her students worked on several years ago. The teens also helped Houston ISD Transportation revamp their bus routes using GIS.

Senior Lisette Corona will use GIS to major in computer science, and she believes she’ll have a one-up on her classmates in college.

Junior Guillermo Perez-Negron is a ROTC student is using GIS to inspect maps for military applications. He’ll also use it as he becomes a medical oncologist, post high school.

“It’s also very practical in real life situations because you will use geography in every single location you will be in, from finding a home to tracking job opportunities,” he said.

GIS computer software is used for analyzing events ranging from flooding disasters to elections, said Lisa Felske, HCDE science curriculum director. She is a huge proponent of the GIS Day as the event has been held for a fourth year at HCDE.

This year Tye Payne, leader of the Lone Star Unmanned Aerial Systems Center at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, provided the keynote presentation to students.

Students also worked in stations with drones, competed in a geography bee and mapped with GIS software in computer labs and spoke to industry experts about career opportunities.

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