February 25, 2008

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

VSU Faculty Train St. Marys Employees

VALDOSTA - Several faculty members from Valdosta State University recently traveled to Camden County to provide training for City of St. Marys employees on Geographic Information Systems as part of a contract between the city and the VSU Center for Applied Research.

The project was initiated by Dorie Brink, Electronic Technician for Trident Refit Facility in Kings Bay and alum of the Adult and Career Education and Master of Public Administration programs at VSU. Brink has always been very active in local government around the Kings Bay area, which led to her discovering a need for City of St. Marys employees to be trained in GIS. As part of a research project for graduate school, she discussed the possibility of having professors train the employees with Dr. Gerald Merwin, who submitted a formal proposal to the Center for Applied Research (CAR) at VSU.

With Brink as the liason, The CAR and the City of St. Marys worked together to establish a workshop on the GIS application that could accurately meet the city’s needs. Dr. Paul Vincent and Dr. Can Denizman, both associate professors in the Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences Department, served as the trainers. Vincent holds a Ph.D. in Geography with an emphasis in Graphic Information Systems, while Denizman holds a Ph.D. in Geology and used GIS in his dissertation. The faculty members offered introductory GIS training in Dec. to a dozen city employees in St. Marys.

Dr. James LaPlant, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences was also involved in the project and thrilled to establish a relationship between the CAR and a municipality in the VSU 41-county area.

“It was perfect fit for CAR, which exists to connect faculty expertise to community needs in the 41-county service region,” LaPlant said. “As our Web site explains, we are here to assist you with finding resources to enhance your skills and allow for career growth opportunities.”

Dr. Vincent said the St. Marys training went very well and a follow-up, more advanced session will be scheduled later this spring. He credits Brink, who sat in on the December training, with having the initiative to establish the partnership, which could open doors for future training in the 41-county area.

“The bottom line is GIS is used in almost every aspect of local government,” Vincent said. “Employees looking for basic introduction to GIS and its applications to local government can use VSU as a strong resource for providing training and support.”

Vincent and Denizman have performed contract GIS work for other municipalities, including the City of Douglas, and they hope to establish more relationships similar to that with the City of St. Marys. Merwin agreed that future training and relationships are a definite possibility and hopes that VSU is able to reach out to other areas through the CAR.

Call Dr. John Pascarella, coordinator for the Center for Applied Research, at (229) 333-5230 or e-mail jbpascar@valdosta.edu. More information about GIS is available at http://www.gis.com/whatisgis/index.html .

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