Virginia Tech part of Virginia Space Grant Consortium awarded nearly $900,000 by National Science Foundation

John McGee

John McGee

BLACKSBURG, Va., July 20, 2009 – The Virginia Space Grant Consortium has been awarded a grant of $894,228 by the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Advanced Technological Education Program for the Geospatial Technician Education through Virginia's Community Colleges (GTEVCC) project.

Project partners include the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), John Tyler Community College, Tidewater Community College, Virginia Western Community College, and the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program at Virginia Tech that is headed up by John McGee.

With the project team, McGee, the state’s geospatial Extension specialist for Virginia Cooperative Extension and assistant professor in the College of Natural Resources, will create and maintain a geospatial technology Web portal for the community college system to serve as a repository for pathway models, curriculum, professional-development materials, career awareness materials, and other resources.

The project team will also develop geospatial technology career awareness resources and materials to be shared statewide. This project will consolidate the efforts in which the community colleges are currently engaged and will facilitate coordination and collaboration among faculty at member community colleges.

The vision of the GTEVCC project is to establish academic pathways in geospatial technology (technologies such as geographic information systems, global positioning systems, and remote sensing) at three community colleges in the VCCS that will provide Virginia employers with a larger pool of skilled geospatial technicians.

These academic pathways will serve as model programs for other community colleges. McGee will be coordinating an intensive geospatial institute to train community college faculty members at Virginia Tech during the summers of 2010 and 2011.

The GTEVCC project will include educational materials development, adaptation, and implementation, and will provide professional development and mentoring for faculty and high school teachers. Each college will develop a certificate program in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and update their existing GIS courses and programs to better reflect employers’ needs. The curriculum developed through the GTEVCC project will be driven by the needs of business and industry in the commonwealth.

“We’re delighted with this NSF grant that will allow our colleges to remain at the cutting edge of an exciting and growing field,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s community colleges. “It is yet another example of the partnerships that our colleges build with one another, business and industry, and higher education institutions. Most importantly, this continuing partnership with the Virginia Space Grant Consortium will lead individuals to jobs, and it will reap increasing rewards and workforce development opportunities for communities and businesses across Virginia,” noted DuBois.

Chris Carter, assistant director of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, explained, “The consortium is honored to lead the project on behalf of the VCCS, the partnering community colleges, and the Virginia Geospatial Extension Program. The VCCS has a strong commitment to geospatial technology education and meeting the needs of employers across the commonwealth. Virginia is lucky to have such a large and dedicated group of professionals and educators in the geospatial technology field. I am very proud of the collaboration and team effort that has already accomplished so much through our planning grant. I look forward to the next three years working with this team.”

The benefits of this partnership are recognized by business and industry representatives. Russell Minich, principal with the Timmons Group and a participant on the project since the planning team first met several years ago, pointed out, “The NSF-funded GTEVCC project is great news for the partnering community colleges, the VCCS, and the commonwealth. I really look forward to serving on the advisory committee and providing the business community prospective. We are the major consumers of the community college product, a trained workforce.”

NSF’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program supports the development of technicians in emerging fields, recognizing the need to inspire, motivate, and empower students to develop and achieve career goals. NSF funds ATE projects that focus on developing partnerships between community colleges, other higher education institutions, and employers to provide workforce development and education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels.

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