EMU to lead new effort to expand teaching of geographic information systems and technology in Michigan high schools

Written by Geoff Larcom / EMU

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University will lead a nearly $1 million state grant to develop geographic information systems and technology (GIS/T) mapping and analysis applications designed to strengthen Michigan high school students’ abilities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

GIS is a computer application that allows users to create interactive searches, analyze spatial information, edit data in maps and present results in multi-media forms. It has valuable applications for fields such as engineering, planning, management, transport/logistics, telecommunications, science and business.

The project, entitled “Integration of GIS in High School Curricula to Enhance STEM Career and Learning,” will develop three GIS courses to teach in partner high schools for concurrent enrollment credit. The courses will be taught by either Eastern faculty or high school teachers trained by EMU faculty.

The project also aims to provide participating high school students with GIS internship projects in businesses and the chance to earn industrial GIS certification.

Yichun Xie, director of Eastern Michigan University’s Institute for Geospatial Research and Education, will oversee the project. Xie is an internationally recognized expert in computer modeling and GIS applications.

The grant, which totals $988,707, is from the State of Michigan’s Marshall Plan for Talent, which seeks to prepare students and adults for the careers of today and tomorrow. It involves building partnerships between business and education as it invests funds to create, expand and support educators and businesses who develop innovative programs for high-demand, high-wage careers.

According to state research, Michigan will have more than 811,000 high-demand, high-wage career openings to fill through 2024 in fields such as information technology and computer science, healthcare, manufacturing and other business and professional trades careers.

Talent consortium members in the project include Wayne RESA, Northwestern Michigan College, the Early College Alliance @ EMU, The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative, Van Buren, Monroe, Northport, Suttons Bay, and Elk Rapids Public Schools; and the Henry Ford Academy. Van Buren Schools served as the applicant.

The GIS Technology Talent Consortium also includes eight business/employer members, one industry association, one regional MichiganWorks! office, and four other governmental/public entities.

The award represents Eastern’s continuing, strategic investment in research, a broad effort that recently moved its ranking from that of a large master’s degree granting university to that of a doctoral university with high research activity in the Carnegie Classification® of Institutions of Higher Education ratings. The new ranking joins Eastern Michigan with only 6 percent of universities nationwide with such a doctoral research categorization.

The University has grown in all areas – research, service, student support – in its external funding portfolio, which also includes funds received from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  External funding has increased 33 percent, from $9 million to $12 million over the last three years.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University’s Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University’s website.