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2008-2010 Catalog 
2008-2010 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geographic Information Systems Specialist Certificate

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Degree: Certificate
HEGIS Code: 5399
Curriculum Code: 1470
Campus Location: North,
Liberal Arts Division

Program Description

The Geographic Information Systems Specialist certificate program is designed to prepare students to directly enter the workforce in GIS Technician positions in a variety of applications and fields. The program also prepares students to continue in more advanced GIS programs. GIS is a tool for storing, organizing, managing and analyzing information in a spatial context. It is more than just a computer mapping tool. The maps generated in GIS are interactive, allowing users to control the data displayed on the map, how it is displayed and linking additional information in a database to the objects on the map. Maps can also be linked to the database so the map is automatically updated every time the information in the database is changed. GIS is currently being used in a broad spectrum of career fields outside the traditional bounds of geography - police departments, businesses, health care planning, transportation management and local government service. GIS technology is a relatively new addition to information systems technology with strong projected job growth both locally and nationally.

GIS technicians are trained to work with GIS software and databases to perform some of the following functions: manage and update the databases; organize and present the data, usually in the form of a map, for use by decision makers; create specific applications for non-GIS-trained users of the database; perform spatial analysis on the data and make recommendations to decision makers based on the results of the analysis.

The GIS Certificate program consists of a core of required GIS courses that allow students to develop GIS skills in a hands-on learning environment. As students progress through the core courses, they work more and more in the classroom on real projects to gain experience in how GIS systems operate and how they are applied to solve problems in real situations. Finally students may opt to participate in an internship program, in which they go out into a real GIS working environment to perform GIS tasks similar to what they will be expected to do in a GIS technician job. Additional coursework requirements in the GIS program are quite flexible to allow students to create a background in areas that will complement their work in GIS. Students may also combine the GIS certificate program with a variety of associate degree programs at the college. For example, students may want to add the GIS certificate to their regular program in Business, Criminal Justice, Environmental Studies, or Social Science.

Program Competencies

The purpose of this curriculum is to provide students with the concept knowledge and skills necessary to transfer successfully into a Baccalaureate GIS program or to enter the workforce as a GIS technician or analyst. The coursework in this program will focus on the development of four areas of GIS-related concepts and skills, as identified below.

Area #1: The student will acquire a basic understanding of the geographic terms and concepts that are necessary for the appropriate use of GIS. These will include concepts of spatial variables, scale, map projection and map coordinate systems. The student will also be aware of the history of GIS, how it fits into overall information management, a variety of applications in which GIS can contribute to analysis and decision-making and have a sense of where the technology will be headed in the future.

Area #2: The student will acquire skills in the use of GIS software, with experience in at least two major GIS software products such as ESRI ArcGIS and Autodesk Map. The student will be able to load the software, import and use data in the software, conduct analysis of the data in the software and produce output from the software. The student will also be able to program in the software in order to change the user interface or simplify tasks for other users of the GIS.

Area #3: The student will be able to deal with a variety of GIS database issues, including, but not limited to: database creation through digitizing and on-screen drawing, editing, design, management and data conversion for use in GIS software. The student will also be aware of the importance of metadata, privacy concerns and issues of data sources, modification, and accuracy.

Area #4: The student will be able to perform a GIS project (analysis for decision-making or creation of a GIS product, such as a map or database). This will include the initial problem statement, identification of data needs, acquisition or creation of data, determination of the type of analysis to be conducted or type of product most appropriate to deal with the problem statement, performance of the analysis and the creation and presentation of the results.


Total Degree Credits: 28.0

Fall Semester

Spring Semester

Summer Session Course (Optional)

Recommended area electives:

Students may wish to augment their GIS studies with concentrations in other disciplines, such as Criminal Justice, Environmental Science, Marketing, Civil Engineering, Social Science, or Computer Science. Students will choose from the following list of area electives (or other areas of interest to the student) in consultation with their adviser according to their particular interests and career goals. This list is suggestive and is not meant to be exclusive of other options.

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