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Seventh Annual Esri Education User Conference in Review

EDUC 2007From hunting fire ants in Hawaii to exploring university geospatial programs, the Seventh Annual Esri Education User Conference (EdUC) offered something for each of the more than 700 attendees. Detailed workshops delivered tools for improved administration, curriculum development, and real-world learning. Paper presentations explored critical-thinking applications, hands-on projects, and other key areas of application in all levels of education and administration.

The increase in conference attendance testified to the demand for integrating geospatial technology into the curriculum to meet workforce demands. To address the career opportunities in other industries and the educational needs of a specific workforce, this year's EdUC combined efforts with the Esri Survey & Engineering GIS Summit. From the EdUC keynote presentations to the survey summit's welcome reception, the two events gave attendees the opportunity to uncover emerging career paths in surveying and engineering and explore the needs each has for the success of the other. "By combining certain aspects of this year's conference with the Survey & Engineering GIS Summit, the education world got a better understanding of industry needs," said Esther Worker, Esri community and youth manager. "It was also a great opportunity for the youth at the conference to explore career opportunities."

Keynote Presentations

The EdUC keynote reflected the synergy between the Survey & Engineering GIS Summit and the EdUC. Stig Enemark, International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) president and former president of the Danish Association of Chartered Surveyors, addressed the EdUC after his keynote presentation at the Survey & Engineering GIS Summit. Enemark discussed the important role of educators to help overcome some of the challenges in surveying. He encouraged the audience to involve the youth with interactive education, quoting a famous Chinese proverb to emphasize his point: "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."

Curt Sumner, executive director of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) delivered the second keynote address for the plenary with a similar theme. Following a video that introduced the surveying career, he spoke about the importance of collaboration and the growing relationship between surveyors and educators. The average age for a surveyor is 58, and there are only approximately 50,000 licensed surveyors in the United States. The career opportunities in the industry continually grow, increasing the necessity for education in the area. "If we can find a way to educate people in the education system as well as the public about relevancy and reliability, the issues with the use of our data will be lessened," Sumner emphasized. "It is a great time to do it while teaching." Sumner also explored the responsibility of the surveyor to the education community. "Our problem, as surveyors, is that we have a hard time thinking at a different level than we operate. We need your help to develop what we're doing to be more meaningful to your students and, at the same time, bring insight to your students about geoscience."

Hands-on Learning Center and Lounge

New to the EdUC, the Hands-on Learning Center and Lounge gave attendees a place to relax, learn, and network. Computers were set up throughout the area with prerecorded modules for self-paced learning, and assistants were available to answer questions. The area had a steady stream of attendees throughout the conference.

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