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The Great Outdoors: Assisting Student Career Choice in Geomatics

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Despite the Bureau of Labor Statistics' prediction of a 21 percent growth potential in geospatial technologies, student enrollment in the closely related fields of surveying and geomatics education at community colleges and universities countrywide remains at a consistently low rate. Citing past examples, experiences, and results of student recruitment, we assimilate key characteristics of a recruiting toolkit to enlist Millennials in geospatial mapping professions. The tools focus on accessing key features of outdoor environments that support creativity in using mapping technologies to solve problems. We report on two ongoing recruitment strategies that incorporate the outdoors which contextualize math and science problems as well as assisting and directing career choices toward surveying and geomatics. Ongoing projects at a vocational technical high school in Pennsylvania and a pilot study on hybrid instruction in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields conducted at high schools in New Jersey are highlighted. Results from these projects demonstrate the essential elements that can be incorporated in the design of novel and innovative recruitment strategies by state societies, high school STEM teachers, and administrators at institutes of higher education to encourage enrollment in two- and four-year surveying and mapping programs at colleges. We recommend a recruitment toolkit that extensively contextualizes the great outdoors, based on the general framework of student career choice theory. The toolkit is aimed at improving high school student enrollment in geomatics engineering or surveying engineering technology programs. We believe that a candidate-centered recruiting approach is more effective than a presenter-centered recruitment strategy. Application of our model can be extended to enhance student learning or augment pedagogical models used by school teachers.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Surveying and Land Information Science (SaLIS) is the official publication of the American Association of Geodetic Surveying (AAGS) and the Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS).

    SaLIS is a scientific journal devoted to reporting research and new work conducted to advance geodetic surveying, land surveying, large-scale mapping, and geographic information systems designed to advance the development and management of the cadastral parcel data layer and other land information applications. SaLIS publishes research articles, technical papers, technical notes, papers on the current state of surveying education, surveying history, book reviews, and current literature reviews. Every four years, the journal publishes the U.S. Report to the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). The Proceedings of the Surveying Teachers Conference are published bi-annually.

    For information about AAGS visit
    For information about GLIS visit

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