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March 10th, 2009
Recently Unemployed Plan for Careers in Geographic Information Systems

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Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited last month’s national unemployment rate at 8.1 percent, the Bureau predicts geographic information systems-related jobs to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2016.

By offering an Advanced Certificate Program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – which has enrolled recently-unemployed professionals – and hosting a Geographic Information Systems Business Forum, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) is preparing students for what the U.S. Department of Labor cites as one of the three most important evolving fields. The forum is set to take place from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 19 at UMKC’s Royall Hall, Room 104, 800 E. 52nd St. GIS users from local companies and agencies, as well as university faculty and students will attend the forum. The forum is free and open to the public.

Speakers from companies, federal agencies and universities will discuss GIS and how they relate to job training and economic development. GIS are technologies that are used by government agencies, universities, research institutions and private corporations to provide information for a wide range of applications, such as new energy development planning, disease surveillance, environmental mapping, urban planning and crime location analysis.

“Geographic information systems have been used in almost all sectors of today’s society, and job market demand is high for workforce trained with GIS-related skills,” said Wei “Wayne” Ji, a professor of Geosciences Department in the College of Arts & Sciences of UMKC and director of UMKC’s Advanced Certificate Program in GIS. “In the Kansas City area, city and county governments have been using GIS for various business activities such as urban planning, crime analysis and water management. GIS mapping products and services have been a major business component of many companies in this region, too.”

Following is a list of speakers and discussion topics:

– Wei “Wayne” Ji, a professor with the Department of Geosciences in the College of Arts & Sciences of UMKC and director of UMKC’s Advanced Certificate Program in GIS, will speak about GIS education and preparing a new workforce for a changing job market.

– Roberta Lenczowski, president of the American Society for Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing’s St. Louis Region, will speak about the term “geospatial” and its origins; the government’s role in fostering interest in digital imagery and raster/vector digital products; and the emergence of geospatial capabilities in the private sector.

– Kari J. Craun, director of the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center at the U.S. Geological Survey will speak about the use of contracts in the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Geospatial Program.

– Brian Hiller, president of the 2009 Kansan City Arc/Info Users Group and ESRI account manager for the Kansas City metro area will speak about GIS solutions for economic development. He will speak about how GIS products, such as Business Analyst Online, Business Analyst Desktop, ArcGIS Server and ESRI Business Intelligence Data can be used to further economic development.

– Michael Flynn, operations manager for MJ Harden Associates, Inc. will speak about the GeoEye Foundation – a non-profit organization that provides satellite imagery donations to professors and students to advance research in geographic information systems and environmental studies. He will speak about past programs that the foundation has funded and how to apply for imagery grants.

– Scott R. Perkins, associate vice president of Wilson & Company, Inc. will speak about how GIS applications can provide awareness of the benefits of managed watersheds, enable emergency action planning and manage assets.

– Jeff Robichaud, chief of the Environmental Assessment & Monitoring Branch for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7, will speak about how a small idea can blossom into a major project. As an example, he will present a GIS case project for a site in Omaha, Neb.

Since it was established in 2006, UMKC’s Advanced Certificate Program in GIS has enrolled about 50 students. More than half of the students are professionals from the Kansas City community, and this program has helped graduates find jobs and enhance their job capabilities. Professors from the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences’ Geosciences, Economics, Urban Planning and Design, Sociology, Criminal Justice and Criminology departments and the School of Computing and Engineering have developed a technology-based curriculum to prepare students for a variety of careers in the GIS market. UMKC’s GIS education program focuses on fundamental and advanced geographic information systems training and related computational methods, with an emphasis on their application in: environmental studies, urban planning, socioeconomic research, crime analysis and database applications. The program’s curriculum consists of five courses covering important and emerging aspects of the GIS field. For more information about the program, visit or contact Professor Wei “Wayne” Ji at or 816-235-2981.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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