GIS program helps students map out their career

The program prepares graduates for work in a variety of sectors including resources, government and with First Nations.

Chad Parrent and Teresa Robinson are among those students looking forward to the January start of Okanagan College’s Advanced GIS (Geographic Information Systems) certificate program in Kelowna.

Robinson is adding to her resume as a geophysical technologist and knows there is work waiting for her at the completion of the program. Parrent is among those who have already registered for the 20-week program that provides students with the skills to create maps and gather, edit and manage GIS and GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) data, and manage projects.

The program is a blend of theory and practical application that prepares graduates for work in a variety of sectors including resources, government and with First Nations.

Parrent, who is 34, is anticipating the program will lead him to a career in the region using GIS skills – hopefully with government.

“I’m interested in geography and mapping. That’s what led me to look at the program,” explains Parrent. “Then I spent some time speaking with the instructor (Bruce Ganton), to ensure I knew what I was getting into. I am very interested in the career opportunities associated with the program.”

Robinson, who is looking to re-engage in the workforce, has already identified work that she’ll be able to get at the conclusion of the program. She’s anticipating that the opportunity will exist to work remotely from the Okanagan with companies and projects elsewhere, as well.

The College’s GIS programs had their origins in Salmon Arm several years ago and are primarily based at this campus, but increasing demand has prompted the institution to offer them in Kelowna, as well as in Salmon Arm, explains Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development. (There are February and August intakes in Salmon Arm.)

“I wanted to take the course three years ago, but wasn’t able to travel to Salmon Arm,” says Robinson, “so, yes, I’m really glad it is being offered in Kelowna.”

Part of the program sees students undertake two major projects of their own design and another project of the type they’d find in a typical workplace.

“There is significant and growing need for the skill set that students will develop,” explains Silvestrone. “Mapping and GIS are essential these days to understand data, traffic patterns, demographics, demand patterns, environmental issues . . . You name it, GIS is probably associated with it somehow.”

Students can still apply for the course, which starts Jan. 26. It is eligible for government student assistance. To find out more or apply, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/advancedGIS

For a full range of program opportunities starting in January, visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/januarystart.

Kelowna Capital News

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