Miss. – The need for jobs in the geospatial technology industry
is growing rapidly. Although most people are not aware this technology
it is a multi-billion dollar industry that affects us all. To educate and
a competent workforce, NASA’s Geospatial Applications Development
(GADD) at Stennis Space Center, along with the Office of Education, has
implemented the National Workforce Development Education and Training
Initiative (NWDETI). The Mississippi Space Commerce Initiative (MSCI) is
also a
participant in this program.

Geospatial technologies aid in the acquisition and interpretation of data
the Earth’s surface from a distance. Satellites and aircraft collect this
From these vantage points, images can be captured to get information that is
possible to collect otherwise. Industries such as insurance, banking, real
estate, environmental monitoring, forestry and agriculture, emergency
and many others can then use the information in everyday business
As the need for this information grows, so does the need for a knowledgeable
workforce. Currently, there is a shortage of qualified personnel to fill
positions in geospatial technology related jobs. In a 1998 National Spatial
Information Technology survey, 87 percent of respondents expressed
difficulty in filling positions dealing with geospatial sciences.

The NWDETI is a national program that began as the Workforce Development
Education and Training Initiative (WDETI) in Mississippi and is known as the
Mississippi Model. The goal of the program is to use existing education and
training infrastructures to develop and prepare a well-trained workforce for
geospatial technology marketplace. The Mississippi Model is a program
that strives to discover the needs of the customer and implement educational
programs to meet those needs. The Mississippi Model also seeks to create
systemic change in the way students and the incumbent workforce are trained.

The WDETI Model targets all educational levels from kindergarten to college.
the year 2003, all junior high students in the public school system in
Mississippi will be introduced to the technology. Community colleges and
universities throughout the state have also begun to participate in educator
training and to develop material and courses in geospatial technologies.

The Mississippi Model has been successful in raising awareness of this
technology and getting programs into schools that will help create a
workforce. From the Mississippi Model evolved the NWDETI, a program that has
taken the WDETI program to a national level. The goal of the NWDETI program
to create a workforce that will help the U.S. maintain its global leadership
geospatial technology.

The NWDETI program seeks to increase the awareness of this technology by
success stories, establishing a review board, featuring NWDETI at various
and conferences around the country and developing a gateway and clearing
online to share geospatial technology information and educational materials.
program also seeks to foster partnerships and create networks between
agencies and the private sector, to research and identify geospatial
workforce requirements and to communicate workforce needs and requirements
the education community.

Projects initiated to increase public awareness include the Geospatial
Development Center (GeoWDC) at the University of Southern Mississippi,
Mississippi Educational Television programs that are broadcast into
around the state, research centers around the United States, national
programming on the Public Broadcasting Stytem (PBS) and the From a Distance

For more information on the NWDETI, contact Stennis Space Center Education
Programs Coordinator Brenda Pounds at 228-688-3814.