New STEM Course in Geospatial Information Systems Encourages Real-World, Hands-On Learning
Monday, December 4, 2023
Environmental conservation, urban development, emergency management, archaeology, public health and real estate. These are just some of the diverse fields that utilize geographic information systems.
Students seeking to work in these areas can enhance their knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS) through a new spatial analysis and mapping course offered at St. Louis Community College.
The course, GST101, launched in August at the Wildwood campus. In January, it will available at both Wildwood and Florissant Valley. Moreover, the course is one of two new GST offerings at STLCC, and additional coursework is in development.
Recently, students Jackson L. Tenny and Louis Kelly utilized the knowledge gained in the GST101 course to present a class project on neighborhood housing in Toronto. Employing ArcGIS Online, a web-based mapping tool from Esri, the students conducted a comprehensive analysis, showcasing various factors such as the cost of living, housing density and wealth in different neighborhoods.
Tenny, a junior at Lafayette High School enrolled in STLCC's early college program, outlined the multiple steps involved in their project.
"Using the mapping software, we were able to analyze housing data to compare the benefits of living in different neighborhoods in Toronto," he said. "After collecting our data, we created layered maps to demonstrate what we learned."
Kelly highlighted the real-world application of their project, likening their work to the activities of GIS professionals.
"Dr. [Awad] Lemnifi worked with us and helped provide opportunities to enhance our skills and expand our knowledge of GIS," he said. "This project challenged us to apply our skills and present our findings, just like professionals do in the field."
Lemnifi acknowledged the students' efforts.
"GST101 is an introductory-level class tailored for students with no prior experience in the field of geospatial technology," he said. "I'm proud of how hard my students worked and how eager they were to engage with the course material and explore the capabilities of the mapping program."
Looking ahead, Tenny is considering taking STLCC's other GST course because he's interested in learning how to fly a drone and possibly earning his license through the Federal Aviation Administration. If he chooses to take this course, he'll likely be in class with Kelly again, but this time, Kelly would be his teacher. The reason is because Kelly is a professional drone pilot, and he's an instructor for the College.
While GST101 is not a prerequisite for GST102, Kelly chose to enroll to broaden his skillset.
Prior to teaching at STLCC, he had a lengthy career in facilities and construction management, including a 14-year tenure at Boeing, where he served as the lead facility engineer for the Boeing F-15SA Fighter Aircraft program.
"The beauty of these courses is that they leverage hands-on learning opportunities to boost students' knowledge," Kelly said. "Whereas GST101 focuses on mapping, GST102 teaches students how to fly a drone. Together, they provide students with relevant, real-world experience designed to set them up for success in the booming field of GIS."
Interested in taking a course in GIS? Apply to St. Louis Community College.