Students Awarded ESRI Software in Geospatial Technology Section of SkillsUSA Championships

Redlands, California–Winning students in the Geospatial Technology competition, part of the National SkillsUSA Championships recently held in Kansas City, Missouri, were awarded prize packages that included ESRI’s ArcGIS software.

SkillsUSA was founded in 1965 as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America with a mandate to provide formal leadership and training for high school students preparing for employment after graduation. It now includes college students in some sections. The program’s goal is to increase technical and vocational skills among young people to enhance their employment opportunities.

Timothy Hales from Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina was the gold medalist in the geospatial technology competition and received a comprehensive ArcGIS software package that included ArcView and four extensions as well as a cash prize. Silver and bronze medalists Denver Dobbins and Rachel Harris, respectively, both from Central New Mexico Community College, also won ArcGIS software and cash awards.

All contestants submitted written proposals for a campus garden site suitability study based on the program developed by Digital Quest, Inc., which creates geographic information system (GIS) training courses and awards certifications recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. Solutions were developed using ArcGIS, and project findings were presented in both written and oral reports. Contestants were also required to take a written examination.

Eddie Hanebuth, president of Digital Quest, was instrumental in convincing the directors of SkillsUSA to include GIS in its program. Commenting on the competition, he said, "This contest is designed to be very difficult. The winner will have proven that they understand and can implement a full range of geospatial skills. This includes project management, software usage, map layouts, report writing, and data prep. The winner should prove to be a highly sought-after employee.

"As the economy forces both companies and institutions to put more emphasis on cost-cutting measures, geospatial technology is poised to be the go to technology. The ability to find geography-based cost reductions is unique to geospatial technology. Employers in both the private and government sectors are looking for ways to shave budgets, and geospatial technology can deliver. The future is bright for students and employees that can use geospatial technology wherever they are employed."

Dr. Tom Baker, ESRI’s education industry Internet manager and one of the competition judges, stated, "The level of ability exhibited by the participants in the Geospatial Technology contest was impressive. It is clear that the educational efforts by ESRI, Digital Quest, and others, are working. Spatial thinking and GIS skills are increasing among our secondary and university students, who will provide great benefit to society as they fill an important workforce need utilizing GIS technology."

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