D-QU Students to Learn Planning Skills with GIS

Feb 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 15-3: English Only?, Tribal College News
By Juan A. Avila Hernandez

To help train Native American students in the latest geospatial technology, D-Q University (D-QU) recently received an $118,000 grant from the Department of Defense. This will be D-Q’s first venture into this technology. The tribal college in Davis, CA, is purchasing computer hardware and software and Geographic Information System (GIS) tracking devices.

With a GIS system, students and faculty can integrate and analyze information from several computer databases to create an information portrait of a specific geographical location. The end products are usually maps that contain important data such as the migration of wildlife in a certain region, the growth rate of trees, or the swelling or shrinking of rivers.

The practical applications will attract D-Q students, according to Chris Babcock, environmental science instructor and director of the new GIS program at the college. Road departments, timber companies, and wildlife managers can use it. Social scientists use it for demographics.

The GIS classes will begin after instructors complete their GIS training. The college plans to form a partnership with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute in Albuquerque, NM.

The new GIS training boosts D-Q University’s strong science and mathematics program, according to Babcock, and will be a critical complement to environmental science and computer science courses.

Graduates could use their skills in federal, state, and federal positions. “There are a lot of lucrative jobs out there,” Babcock says. Most Indian tribes currently hire outside contractors to conduct GIS surveys to track reservation boundaries, plan roads, and manage resources within reservation boundaries. “I envision that our students can return to their reservations or rancherias and work for their tribes,” Babcock says.

Juan A. Avila Hernandez (Yoeme-Yoi) is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of California-Davis.

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