National Society of Black Engineers

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Geospatial Technology: Emerging Opportunities for Engineers
Friday, Sept. 30, 2016, 1:45–3:00 p.m.

This workshop will introduce attendees to geospatial technology applications related to engineering. The primary purpose will be to provide a “skill set” enhancement option to experienced professionals and a “competitive edge” to recent graduates. Mid­career engineers will be informed on opportunities for professional development, certification, and education in geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing. Many massive open online courses (MOOCs) and certificate programs are available for busy, working engineers. The workshop facilitators will share information on high­quality, but affordable learning and training opportunities.

Current college students will be advised on where to search on their campuses for GIS coursework, as many engineering degree programs, especially those at HBCUs, lack geospatial technology courses. Students may need to consider searching course catalogs in agriculture, geography, geoscience, business, or urban planning.

According to a 2012 study by the Boston Consulting Group, “geospatial services” is now a nearly two trillion dollar industry. A 2013 report by Oxera states that “geo services sector generates $150­$270 billion of revenue annually.” Geospatial technology applications are now a staple within the engineering profession, especially in civil, environmental, and architectural work. Global warming and urbanization are two emerging trends that will create numerous career opportunities for engineers.

The infrastructure improvements necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change upon cities will require innovations in engineering. Also, though unfortunate, the damages resulting from extreme weather events in densely populated areas will provide jobs as cities rebuild. Engineering innovations will be necessary to move cities toward renewable energy sources and away from greenhouse gas producing fossil fuels.

The “Pokemon GO” phenomenon is bringing “augmented reality” (AR) technology to the mainstream. Augmented reality is essentially a georeferenced virtual representation of the earth overlaid with digital features. The potential applications for AR are limitless, especially in facilities management, emergency response, and transportation systems design.

The workshop will include an example of facilities mapping where old paper and computer assisted drafting (CAD) maps are updated using GIS. Potential AR applications will be discussed, specifically for aiding in users navigating the property.

Weather permitting, workshop facilitators will lead attendees in a short outdoor data collection exercise using hand­held GPS units. The data will then be converted into digital map format using GIS. Thus, those new to the technology will get hands­on experience and will also be informed on how to create their own online GIS mapping accounts free of cost.


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