Preview: GIS Day

The Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old, and it is often changing.  

Scientists explore, uncover and map those secrets with a variety of technology and tools that most people have never had the opportunity to use.  

That equipment, however, will be on display and in action for Pierce’s GIS Day.

GIS Day is a grassroots educational event celebrated nationwide on Nov. 15.

A Geographic Information System integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing and interpreting all forms of geographically referenced information.

The Pierce department of Anthropological and Geographical Sciences will be hosting it on Wednesday, Nov. 15 in the Great Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Six presenters, people from industry and GIS experts, will be speaking about a number of GIS-related topics, from traffic signal systems, to how to fight global warming.

Presentations will be 30 minutes each. There will be a lunch break in between the event, and students will be able to interact with the guest speakers and ask them questions.

Chair of the Anthropological and Geographical Sciences Department Adrian Youhanna will open the event and welcome Pierce students. Students from local high schools, such as Reseda, Birmingham, and Canoga Park, were also invited, Youhanna said.  

“The idea is to show students how versatile and how multidisciplinary this technology is,” Youhanna said.

Youhanna said Pierce is fortunate because it has state-approved GIS certification, but now it also has an associate’s degree.

“Nobody, no other school in our district, has this. This is a huge advantage for our students,” Youhanna said. “It’s one of the fastest emerging technologies. Unfortunately, not many people know what GIS means.”

Every student is using GIS when they are walking around with their cellphones or using maps or any application that uses GPS, Youhanna said.

“It’s a very effective tool used to share information. Using this type of technology helps us make smart decisions,” Youhanna said.

Jason Finley, an instructor of Meteorology and Geography, will also participate in GIS Day. Her and Youhanna will wrap up the event at about 1:45 p.m.

Finley said Pierce has hosted GIS Days on campus since 2011, and every year there is a different set of presenters.

There will be a new topic presented on Nov. 15, according to Finley.

“Something we haven’t had in the past is how to use GIS to fight climate change. There will be examples of how GIS is used in the workplace and in the world as a whole,” Finley said.

Finley said the purpose of the event is to increase awareness of GIS and increase enrollment in the program.

“We want to get the word out to these high school students that GIS is cool, because they will come here and take our classes,” Finley said.

Some of the fields that incorporate GIS the most are marketing, business, economics and politics, Finley said.

“You can specialize in GIS and get a career out of that, or you can use GIS as a tool to boost whatever major or discipline you already have,” Finley said.

Special Instructor of Grants Michael Williams said L.A. High-Tech is sponsoring GIS Day.

Williams said he wants students to be aware of what GIS is and how it works in everyday life.

“A lot of people don’t know about it, but we use it all the time,” Williams said.

The nationwide celebration of GIS Day started in 1999, Williams said. He said the previous event at Pierce had a positive result and impact on students. He said he hopes to see the same result this year.

“Last year, it went great. Students were very engaged, and they were very excited,” Williams said.