Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Thirteen Texas A&M-Kingsville Students Earn In-Demand Geographic Information Systems Certificates

KINGSVILLE - December 17, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

First students to complete unique university program

Two years ago, Dr. Jaehyung Yu, assistant professor of geosciences at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, began offering a series of undergraduate and graduate classes that allowed students to earn a certificate in geographic information systems (GIS). Those first students, 13 total, earned their certificates the week of December 8, and helped fill a growing need for GIS analysts.

A GIS is a comprehensive database tied to location, with an integrated set of tools for querying, analyzing and displaying information. According to Yu, GISs are rapidly gaining recognition as a means of dealing with information stored on maps, with as many applications in resource and environmental management, business and marketing, urban and regional planning, map production and research.

“GIS analysis is one of the hottest career opportunities today,” said Yu. “GIS analysts are in demand across the nation, and for that matter, the world, as the use of GIS in government agencies, private businesses and nonprofit organizations grows dramatically.

“This certificate program is to help students from various fields get enough knowledge to understand and use GIS techniques on real world problem solving and get certified as proof.”

To prove the point of the variety of study fields, of the three graduate students receiving their GIS certificates Dec. 8 and the 10 undergraduate students receiving their certificates Dec. 11, there are nine geology majors, three animal and wildlife sciences majors, and one environmental engineering major.

“I was so impressed by the students,” said Yu. “As they took the classes, they began to realize all the different ways the training can be utilized.”

Two of the students have seen the various uses for GIS firsthand from Yu—research assistants Noe Saenz, a geology and computer information systems (CIS) major from Palacios and Samuel Cantu, a geology major from Falfurrias. The two have been a part of numerous GIS research efforts by Yu, including charting the socioeconomic effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and 3-D modeling of the A&M-Kingsville campus.

Yu was so confident in Cantu and Saenz, he asked them to present what they were learning at the Pathways Student Research Symposium for students of the Texas A&M University System. Cantu focused on a GIS project on glacial movement in Antarctica, while Saenz presented demographic work done on Corpus Christi, for use in hurricane evacuation routes. Saenz took first place and Cantu second place in the undergraduate environmental science division of the competition.

Geology major Jacob Hundl of Brazoria said he has already been utilizing the GIS skills he has learned in an internship with Mestena Uranium L.L.C. Prior to that, Hundl said he realized how effective the A&M-Kingsville GIS training had been when he and five other students attended a four-week field camp at Sul Ross State University. Students from some eight universities conducted detailed mapping of various geologic settings, and Hundl said his class more than held their own. “Texas A&M-Kingsville was the dominant school. We surpassed everyone, and were actually teaching other students what to do.”

Ashleigh Green, range and wildlife management and computer information systems major from Troup, heard about GIS certification through a campus email notice. She knew from her work with Eric Redeker, director of the Wildlife Research Technologies Laboratory of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, that GIS knowledge had a lot of value in her field. “In wildlife management, you can use GIS for habitat mapping. I’d like to serve as tech support on a wildlife field crew, and be at the forefront of a niche field.”

The students credit Yu to a great degree in learning a skill set out of their chosen field of study. “Dr. Yu is good at bringing the class into what he’s teaching,” said Hundl. “He’s probably one of the most charismatic professors I’ve ever met.”

Saenz noted, “You won’t fall asleep in his class. He gets excited doing his lectures, and that excitement is contagious.”

Graduate GIS Certificate Classes
GEOL5312 (spring 2009)
GEOL5352 (remote sensing) (summer 2009)
Advanced GIS (fall 2009)

Undergraduate GIS Certificate Classes
GEOG3450 (spring 2009)
GEOG 2XXX(introduction to GIS) (fall 2009)
GEOG4435 (remote sensing) (fall 2009)
GEOG4425 (advanced GIS) (spring 2010)

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