The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) announced that it has formed an Educational Outreach Committee to promote GIS, GPS (global positioning satellites), and remote sensing technology in schools, colleges, and universities across North America. Specifically, the committee will encourage educational institutions to offer GIS as standalone programs. Ashok Wadwani, president of Applied Field Data Systems, Inc., in Houston, Texas, was named chair of the committee. Wadwani is president of the GITA's Gulf Coast Chapter, one of 19 regional GITA chapters in North America.

GIS has become a widely used tool for asset management. The number of users is increasing, as is the number of GIS applications available. However, the rapid growth of GIS usage has outpaced the number of students pursuing a career in the industry, which is perhaps a reflection of the small number of GIS education programs in colleges and universities.

“There is a shortage of qualified GIS professionals,” said Wadwani. “Very few universities and colleges offer GIS programs.” The formation of the Educational Outreach Committee represents another way GITA is promoting education about GIS technology, adding to efforts such as scholarship programs.

“We want to show the wide uses of GIS to teachers, students, and the public in general so that they realize how the information and technology can be applied,” said Bob Samborski, executive director of GITA. “The uses of GIS are nearly limitless, as are the opportunities to become involved with the industry itself.”

Wadwani was chosen to chair the committee because he was instrumental in the GITA Gulf Coast Chapter’s efforts to promote GIS education in the Houston area. The chapter helped establish two GIS programs at junior colleges, one doctorate-level program at a university, and several courses in GIS at elementary, junior high, and high schools.