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EIGS kicks off MARS 2009

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) has launched the MARS 2009 high school GIS projects.

MARS (Mississippi Area Remapping Strategy) is a geospatial high school adoption program that was established in 2007 to help address the ongoing demand for an educated, well-trained workforce and to create a pipeline of the next generation of employees for Mississippi’s geospatial industry. The 2009 program consists of 13 schools participating from across the state of Mississippi.

This year, MARS will pilot the program for middle school students with upper-level students from Lyon Elementary in Coahoma County serving as the pilot group.

Over the next six months, the selected schools will work with academic and community mentors to design and conduct a community-based geospatial information science and technology (GIS&T) project. The projects will show how geospatial technology can be used to address a variety of community needs including the mapping of community resources such as walking trails, the inventory of infrastructure and facilities such as fire hydrants and bridges, the tracking of bus routes, and the mapping of physical features such as levees.

The participating schools receive support from their mentor institution, computer hardware and software, technical support and training, GPS units, and resource books to support the projects.

MARS is funded primarily through the EIGS with additional funding from a Delta Regional Authority grant and from the AmericaView Program. MARS high schools are partnered with mentors from universities, community colleges, geospatial businesses, and community organizations.  Northwest Mississippi Community College serves as the statewide coordinator for the MARS program.

MARS 2009 includes schools from Batesville, Biloxi, Como, Decatur, Jackson, Lake Cormorant, Laurel, Louisville, Lyon, Marks, Saltillo, Tunica, Webb, and Woodville.  Volunteering their time and expertise to guide the school GIS projects are mentors from Alcorn State University, DeSoto County GIS Department, East Central Community College, Hinds Community College, Jones County Junior College, Mendrop-Wages Surveying, Mississippi Association for Spatial Technologies, Mississippi State University, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Plum Creek Timber Company, the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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