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Educators implement training programs in schools and colleges

Mississippi plans to be center for remote sensing education

stennis space center — As remote sensing grows into a $15 billion per year business in the next decade, there is likely to be a shortage of workers trained to work in the field.

But not in Mississippi if educators have their way.

Programs are in place to prepare Mississippi young people for employment in a field that is expected to be increasingly important in the future.

“We are making Mississippi the center of excellence, the place where people come when they are talking about remote sensing,” said Dr. George Leggett, education program coordinator for the workforce development, education and training initiative for the commercial remote sensing program at Stennis Space Center. “In order to do that, we must have a trained workforce available. We’re implementing training all the way from the K-12 programs to graduate school.”

Leggett said the program is aimed at development of a workforce in Mississippi for the commercial remote sensing applications. Stennis Space Center is the lead NASA center for commercial remote sensing.

Some training programs are already in place, and other are being planned. Currently modules for grades 7-9 are being development and will be placed into the existing technical education program in the state. Pilot programs in six school districts will begin in the fall, with full implementation in about two years. Also, career information is being prepared that will be available to all schools in Mississippi for grades 10-12.

A pilot program at Hinds County Community College is geared towards remote sensing applications for drafting and surveying. And efforts are being made to attach a specialty in remote sensing to established degree programs at four-year universities in the state.

“Instead of going out and having a brand new bachelor’s degree in remote sensing, we are considering, for example, a degree in forestry with a specialty in remote sensing,” Leggett said.

Leggett said the whole focus of the education programs is to create world-renowned remote sensing programs in the state of Mississippi. “We’re working toward making sure Mississippi is on the map so when you think in terms of remote sensing, you think of Mississippi,” he said. “If you can name an industry, there are some implications in terms of remote sensing. Our whole purpose is to support the commercialization of remote sensing information, and to provide infrastructure for training so we have a work force in support of these industries as they emerge.”

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