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Southwestern College Receives National Science Foundation Award
Grants Totaling More Than $464,000 to Assist Geospatial Technology Program

Ken YanowThe School of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering at Southwestern College (SWC) is proud to announce that Kenneth Yanow, Professor of Geographical Sciences, has recently been awarded two grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF). SWC has reaped the benefits of more than a million dollars in funding from NSF since last year. The NSF funding has provided the College’s students the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment, to participate in paid internship opportunities, and to be exposed to innovative curricula and programs.

The first grant, totaling more than $273,700, was awarded to develop a Geospatial Technology (GST) Program at the College. The second grant received, in the amount of $190,665, is to establish a National Geospatial Technology Center (NGTC) of Excellence, a partnership and collaboration of academic institutions across the nation, including SWC, six other community colleges and four universities. The first grant will have funding until July 2011 and the NGTC will be initially funded until July 2012 (with potential funding extending until 2020).

The growing geospatial technology industry includes the specialized set of information technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and global positioning systems. GST supports a wide variety of uses; from data acquisition, to image analysis, to geovisualization display and output. Google Earth, MapQuest, GPS units in vehicles, and all those descriptive maps that we see on the news are all common examples of geospatial technology in action.

According to President George W. Bush’s High Growth Job Training Initiative, geospatial technology was listed among the top three high-technology high-growth industries in the country and has become a $30 billion-a-year industry.

“Today, professionals in any number of ‘spatial’ fields such as biology, social science, communications, politics, physical science, and business, for example, are using geospatial technologies as powerful analytical and decision making tools,” said Professor Yanow. “These two new grants will provide students and faculty at SWC -- across a variety of disciplines -- to have every opportunity to be introduced to and trained in the hardware and software of this exciting and emerging technology.”

One of Professor Yanow’s primary roles for the NGTC will be to direct the underserved and underrepresented student recruitment and retention initiative with the ultimate goal of developing materials and strategies for recruiting and retaining underserved and underrepresented students into geospatial fields. Additional goals of the NGTC will be to 1) create a national repository of exemplary geospatial curriculum material; 2) create a national geospatial workforce needs assessment; 3) increase the number of schools and colleges participating in articulation; 4) increase the number of community college and secondary school teachers participating in professional development; and 5) provide a voice for community college geospatial education.

Both the NGTC grant and the GST grant begin this Fall (2008). Students at SWC will see new courses in remote sensing, image analysis, and global positioning systems (GPS) beginning Fall 2009.


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