Earth Data, Inc., based in Centreville, Maryland, recently offered a free workshop to students participating in Chesapeake College’s TRiO Student Support Services. The program is a federally-funded program designed to help eligible students with their entire Chesapeake College experience. Katrina Johnson, Associate Director for STEM Programs at Chesapeake College, reached out to Earth Data to offer hands-on training in Geospatial Information System (GIS) and Mapping to students in the TRiO Program.
“This type of outreach fits into our company’s mission to make our communities thrive and encourage those around us. Our employees represent a wealth of talent and experience and are eager to help the community when they can,” states Mark Williams, CEO, Earth Data, Inc.
Johnson comments, “We have been looking for experiences like this to expand our student’s horizons and to partner with local businesses. In addition to this workshop, we have created workshops in financial literacy, physics and math, career advancement, and college preparation by visiting four-year universities – options for those students wanting to continue with their education.”
Earth Data employees Jackson Forrest, Geospatial Technical Manager, and Shawn Stabile, GIS Analyst, were instructors for the workshop which was held over two weeks at Chesapeake College. Part I of the workshop focused on what GIS is and how it is used and Part II of the workshop students created their own GIS project applying the knowledge they learned using live maps and mapping 58 resources. In addition, students learned about cartographic principles and how to manipulate data.
“This is the first time we have done a workshop like this. It’s been nice being able to put together an informational course for the community that we can use in other applications and in other communities to familiarize people with how GIS works,” states Forrest.
Stabile adds, “I have enjoyed taking a step back and understanding that this isn’t what other people do as I am conveying this basic information to students. It allows us to show and tell what Earth Data does as a company and to illustrate the talent and experience needed to do GIS, as well as the work opportunities out there.”
TRiO currently has 315 students in the program which assists students from low-income and rural areas who are first-generation college students and may lack the support they need to attend college. TRiO coordinators work with students on everything from tutoring and financial aid to registration for classes and transfer options. Five students participated in the workshops from the program: Cecil Robinson, Aaron Turner, William Turri, Ty Walk, and Jasen Xander.
Ty Walk of Greensboro, one of the students in the workshop, commented, “It’s been fun to learn a new program.”
“It was new and different for me from computer science, but I am glad I learned it,” added TRiO student Aaron Turner of Talbot County.
Participant William Turri of Federalsburg, stated, “I had a job in this field using similar software. I am seeking a cybersecurity degree and a job with the National Security Agency. GIS may be a side interest for me. Learning new skills and getting a better understanding of GIS has been very fun.”
According to Johnson, “We would like to have TRiO students work on a GIS project on campus that will align with the STEM side of the program.”
For 47 years, Earth Data, Inc. has been providing field-oriented water resources and geospatial consulting services using high-tech tools to collect, analyze, manage, and distribute data in sophisticated ways. For further information, visit earthdatainc.com.