Oxford, MS, USA – The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) and the Geospatial Education Council of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) have officially launched MARS (Mississippi Area Remapping Strategy) programme at a function held on the Ridgeland campus of Holmes Community College. The programme is a geospatial high school adoption programme with 8 high schools across the state of Mississippi. Eighty-five students, teachers, mentors, and representatives from state departments and agencies were in attendance.
During the spring of 2009, the selected high schools will work with designated university/community college partners to design and complete a community-based geospatial information science and technology (GIS&T) project. The participating MARS high schools receive support from their mentor institution, computer hardware and software, technical support and training, GPS units, and resource books to support the projects.
MARS is funded by EIGS in cooperation with mentors from the IHL Geospatial Education Council. Northwest Mississippi Community College serves as the statewide coordinator for the MARS programme.
“The number of new jobs available from Mississippi’s geospatial businesses is far outpacing the number of qualified candidates to fill available vacancies,” stated Dr. Greg Easson, EIGS Executive Director. “The MARS programme was established to help address this ongoing demand for an educated, well-trained workforce and to create a pipeline of the next generation of employees for Mississippi’s geospatial industry.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, geospatial technology is among the top three fastest growing career fields in the U.S. with a 15 percent growth rate in new jobs projected over the next decade.
MARS 2009 includes high schools from Batesville, Brandon, Byhalia, Decatur, Greenville, Kiln, Leakesville, and Woodville. Volunteering their time and expertise to guide the high school teams are members of the IHL Geospatial Education Council including Alcorn State University, East Central Community College, Jackson State University, Jones County Community College, MARIS, MS Delta Community College, Northwest Mississippi Community College, The University of Mississippi, the UM Medical Center, and the University of Southern Mississippi.
“Through the involvement of a wide-range of community partners, we fully expect this year’s MARS projects to not only motivate and excite the students, but to have a positive impact on community needs,” stated Joyce Brasell of Northwest Mississippi Community College, the statewide coordinator for the pilot project.
The projects will focus on a diverse array of community needs such as using geospatial technology to map culturally significant sites, E-911 mapping, urban hazard tree assessment, and mapping of infrastructure and facilities. MARS community partners include organizations such as chancery clerk’s office, chambers of commerce, tax assessors, forestry commission, regional medical center, planning and development district, fire department, and city engineer’s office.