University of Ulster students are using their expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address a growing skills gap in classrooms across Northern Ireland.
GIS helps people to visualise, question, analyse, interpret, and understand data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts.
It has burgeoned into a multi-million pound global industry with applications in conservation, emergency service planning, health care provision, urban development, transport and retail.
As the need for GIS professionals has grown across a number of sectors, a skills gap at post-primary level, which has a knock-on effect on industry, has emerged.
Professor Adrian Moore, Head of the School of Environmental Science, said: “As the largest provider of GIS education on the island of Ireland, the University of Ulster is harnessing the expertise of its staff and students to help address the skills shortage in the classroom, particularly in areas of deprivation and economic need.
“Our Education and Environmental Science students are going into schools across Northern Ireland equipping, educating and enthusing teachers and pupils about this crucial element within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Already, three laptops with ArcGIS software were kindly sponsored by Esri Ireland.
“Over 100 pupils, from schools in areas of high deprivation are also visiting the university’s Coleraine campus to take part in GIS cross-community projects.
“The benefits are two-fold with pupils gaining valuable GIS skills which will help boost their employment prospects in the future as well as fostering a positive attitude to aspire to higher education from a young age.
“Over 50 teachers have already been introduced to GIS by the team at Ulster, and the partnerships that have now been established will lead to increased engagement with the University of Ulster in the future.”