Adams State University received a Colorado Credential Pathways Technical Assistance Grant from the Colorado Department of Higher Education, according to Chayan Lahiri, Ph.D., assistant professor of geosciences and director of the Edward K. Ryan Geology Museum. He said the $10,779 grant will support development of an advanced course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and an 18-credit minor and certificate program in GIS.

Dr. Ruthanne Orihuela, director of credential pathways and prior learning initiatives at CDHE, said, “The grant program will help ensure greater access to quality, short-term credentials that prepare Colorado’s learners and earners for careers in high-value industries. Institutions are building pathways in behavioral health, information technology, education, and healthcare.”

Dr. Lahiri explained, “GIS is a database of information which can be used to make maps and perform spatial analysis on data. This technology is useful not only in the fields of geology and geography, but also in wildlife biology, ecology, archaeology, business, sociology, medicine, and pharmacy.”

For example, the appropriate GIS data could help produce maps to determine the percentage of San Luis Valley trees growing near bodies of water and query to see if the trees prefer particular soil types, or to explore whether people who live closer to gyms have fewer health issues. “These are simple examples that we generally know the answers to. However, GIS programs can query and analyze much more complex problems,” he added.

Dr. Lahiri said the new course, Advanced GIS, will link Introduction to GIS and Cartography with Remote Sensing, completing an 18-credit minor in GIS, or a stand-alone, non-degree certificate in GIS. Drawing on current trends in GIS, the new course will culminate in an independent project or internship with the Bureau of Land Management. Dr. Lahiri is consulting with the National Park Service and BLM staff to assure the course is professionally relevant for students.

Introduction to GIS is offered each fall semester; Dr. Lahiri plans to launch Advanced GIS in the spring semester, 2025. Key to the Credential Pathways grant is the ability for those with demonstrable skills and experience to waive the prerequisite Intro course.