Digital Quest: Bringing GIS to students
They call themselves "techknowgizmologists" on the company logo.
But you can call them educators.
Digital Quest is a Mississippi-based development and training company. Its primary focus is helping educational institutions provide training in the growing field of geospatial technology.
Their products are in 29 states and over 300 schools.
Established in 1996, it became a member of the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology in 2000 and operates out of the Center of Excellence in Geospatial Technologies at Stennis Space Center. The company has
a small number of full time employees, several contractors, as well as 40 educational representatives around the country run by the sales office located in New Jersey. The writers are located in offices in Ridgeland, Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas.
"The products are used by an amazing range of ages, from 6th grade to college," said Eddie Hanebuth, Digital Quest president and founder.
"Our products prepare students for geospatial careers, or they round out a student's education in another field, giving that student a greater edge when entering the workplace. Ninety percent of all geospatial jobs are part of other jobs," said Hanebuth.
Through partnerships with organizations such as Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MsET), Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), NASA, SkillsUSA, Magnolia Business Alliance and others, Digital Quest delivers turn-key courses that can be taught by instructors with little or no previous GIS knowledge, and which can provide entry-level GIS technician certification to its students.
The company's products are used by instructors in GIS-specific programs of study at the college, community college and high-school levels. Products also are used for non-GIS-specific programs of study, such as environmental engineering, law enforcement, forestry and others.
The company is involved in one of the nation's high growth fields - geospatial technologies. Geospatial technologies include GIS (geographic information system), RS (remote sensing), GPS (global positioning system) and surveying.
A GIS uses computer hardware and software to store, display and analyze geographic data. Unlike paper maps, GIS maps are dynamic and can display whatever data a user wishes to see. A key component to geospatial technology is RS, the use of aircraft and satellites to acquire images. By collecting data over time, remote sensing makes it possible to see how the environment changes.
Once the purview of the government, the products of GIS and remote sensing are part of everyday life. It ranges from GPS units used by hikers and hunters, and computerized mapping program for home use to mapping systems placed in vehicles. Geospatial technology is used in almost every career field, retail business, transportation, government, utilities, medicine, economic development, education and more.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, geospatial technology-related jobs are increasing about 15 percent per year. The average salary for a GIS-related job is more than $45,000 per year. Direct careers using geospatial technology include GIS technicians, geologists, GIS/RS instructors and more. Indirect careers include 911 operators, architects, engineers, landscape architects, marketing professions and more.
Digital Quest's education products are created through strategic partnerships with organizations including Mississippi Enterprise for Technology (MsET), Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), AgrowKnowledge, JasonAFE, Don Meltz Planning, Swamp School, Twitter friends, various universities and others depending on the experts needed for the books they are creating.
Digital Quest also runs the STARS Geo Apprenticeship Program through the Labor Department, the SkillsUSA National Geospatial competition and the national STARS certification program at the Center of Excellence in Geospatial Technologies located at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center.
The company is a member of the SkillsUSA National Geospatial Competition technical committee, and it also founded the Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing Geospatial Apprenticeship Program (STARS GeoAP), which offers a standardized way for schools, individuals, and employers to train skilled workers for geospatial jobs. More than 300 geospatial technicians have been certified via Center of Excellence/Digital Quest's STARS certification program.
Digital Quest's three course series are "aGIS," a Geospatial Industry Series, "SPACE," which stands for Spatial Products and Community Exchange, and "STARS," which stands for Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing.
Each a GIS book examines an entire industry/career cluster to show students how geospatial technology impacts and improves that industry/career cluster. The career clusters are drawn from "16 Career Clusters" developed by the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium. Guided lessons and scenarios give students hands-on experience with GIS Software. There are currently three books in the series.
SPACE, which can be taught in a conventional classroom or through home-based study, applies geospatial technology to real, local, community-based projects. Courses include GIS in economic development, in homeland security and in law enforcement.
"Students can apply their new geospatial skills in real-life situations producing real-life results," said Austin Smith, Digital Quest's vice president of development and support.
STARS is a series of courses preparing students to take an industry-backed, entry-level GIS certification test, the first and only competency based, industry-backed, entry-level geospatial certification. The program was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship.
STARS is offered in colleges/universities, community colleges, vocational-technical schools and high schools. Four semesters of courses provide students with skills to be an entry level geospatial technician. Students seeking STARS certification must demonstrate an ability to apply skills and concepts learned in previous STARS courses and pass a rigorous exam.
"Our philosophy is to give both the teacher and the student everything they need to be successful," says Hanebuth, adding that Digital Quest is committed to helping students, instructors and businesses keep up with the rapidly developing fields of GIS and geospatial technology.
Digital Quest also recently branched out into the field of aerospace, with plans to release a book on the subject in the near future. Topics to be covered in the book include: "Space Missions/Command and Control of Satellites," "Space Missions/Exploration" and "Military Applications/Battlefield Management."
Web site: http://www.digitalquest.com