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GIS student receives scholarship from state mapping group

WKU student J. Austin Boys of Greeneville, Tenn., has been awarded a scholarship by the Kentucky Association of Mapping Professionals (KAMP).

Only one student in the Commonwealth is awarded this scholarship each year.  This year’s award is for $500, and this year marks the first time a scholarship has been awarded by KAMP.

“The scholarship was largely my idea as a way to generate further interest in GIS and to give back,” says Ryan Kelly, a Professor of Geography at Bluegrass Community and Technical College and a member of KAMP’s Education and Professional Development Committee.

Applicants for the scholarship must be attending a higher education institution in Kentucky and must be majoring in the geospatial sciences. Boys is a declared major in Meteorology with a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), both offered by the Department of Geography and Geology.

WKU was the only higher education institution in the Commonwealth to submit student applications for this scholarship. “We continue to strengthen our GIS programs in all areas for students pursuing GIS as a tool, profession and science at the undergraduate and graduate level,” Geography and Geology’s GIS Center Director Kevin Cary said.  “Students graduating from WKU in any of our GIS programs have found gainful employment in nonprofit and commercial industries as well as in all levels of government.”

Cary has been a member of KAMP since 2003 and has been a certified GIS professional (GISP) since February 2005. The first set of GIS professionals to be certified with a GISP designation was in 2004, and every five years a GIS certification must be renewed.

KAMP was first envisioned in 2002 by Trisha Brush, Kyle Snyder and Christy Davis (Powell) of Fort Mitchell. In 2003, KAMP became an official nonprofit organization bringing together GIS and mapping professionals alike. KAMP has grown in popularity among mapping professionals across Kentucky with new members joining each year.

Annual Kentucky GIS conferences were originally hosted by the Commonwealth of Kentucky but, over the past few years, KAMP has been the primary sponsor and host of the Annual Kentucky GIS Conferences. Last year, WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology hosted a quarterly KAMP meeting in WKU’s Center for GIS facilities.  Quarterly meetings are held throughout the Commonwealth. In 2000, GIS became a billion-dollar industry, while reaching more than one million GIS users worldwide. Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment growth in GIS to be more than 15 percent through 2020 – that’s faster than the expected growth average for any occupation.

“Spatial cognition skills are fundamental to solving society’s most critical problems,” noted Department of Geography and Geology Department Head David Keeling. “From mobility to resource use, and from environmental change to geopolitical relationships, understanding spatial impacts and challenges by using GIS tools is becoming more and more a highly valued skill. Austin represents a new breed of spatially aware students who can take these skills into the workforce to help transform society in positive ways.”

For information about KAMP or applying for a KAMP scholarship, visit http://kampro.org or contact Kevin Cary in the WKU’s Center for GIS at (270) 745-2981 or kevin.cary@wku.edu.

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