Five high school juniors are enrolled this semester in the nation’s first Geospatial Class offered at Jefferson Community and Technical College’s Southwest Campus.
Madison Back, Wanda Stanley, Caleb Pennington and Nick Wright of Bullitt East High School and Elivia Lopez of North Bullitt High School were selected from several student applications due to their commitment to class requirements.
These youth have the unique opportunity to learn a specialized science, tuition free, at the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence. JCTC is the only educational facility in the country to offer this class.
(According to Dictionary.com, the definition is pertaining to the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features and boundaries on, above, or below the earth's surface; esp. referring to data that is geographic and spatial in nature).
Geospatial technology is a combination of technologies (GPS, GIS, remote sensing, etc.) used to collect, map and manipulate information to describe the location and attributes of objects.
Lee Barger, Bullitt County Public Schools Director of College and Career Readiness/Innovative Programs, is nearly as enthusiastic as the students.
“It really is unbelievable the advantage these youth have,” he said. “That’s what we want as a school district. To provide an unmatched curriculum for students to thrive. The sky is not the limit anymore.”
JCTC’s Kimberly Boggs, Administrative Coordinator of the Bullitt County Campus, said students are eager to prove they can meet the rigors of career pathways.
“Schools are emphasizing college and career and technical education is an integral component,” she said. “We need to offer these options now and we have to be on the cutting edge because these students deserve this. This is a very precise field and the job demand is high. Program completion will almost guarantee successful careers.”
Current careers in geospatial technology include climatologists, computer specialists, crime analysts, educators, environmentalists, geographers, geologists and software engineers. Based on field and experience, an annual starting salary can range from $20,000 to $50,000.
Geospatial class instructor Vince Dinoto plans for students to invest time on computers and outside using sophisticated mapping equipment.
“We are pushing the envelope to see what they are capable of as well as expand the horizons of the new geospatial curriculum hoping positive feedback will inspire more student enrollment,” he said.
For the students, the challenge of exploring something new is well worth their daily drive to the campus.
“Earning college credit motivates me,” said Caleb Pennington as his classmates agreed in unison.
“It’s such a concentrated field and I want to be part of something dynamic,” said Elivia Lopez.
The GeoTech Center developed 10 model courses based on the competencies within the Department of Labor Geospatial Technology Competency Model. The courses constitute the most up-to-date and workforce-aligned GST curriculum that exists today. Each model includes lecture notes, screencasts, video components, course outline, syllabi, assessments, sample assignments, learning modules, case studies and textual resources.