Penn State Continuing Education launches GIS program in Philipsburg

September 10, 2009

University Park, Pa. -- More than 500,000 U.S. professionals use geographic information systems (GIS) as part of their job and that number is growing by about 15 percent per year according to Directions Magazine, which covers the industry. To help central Pennsylvanians already using GIS in their work and those who want to enter this growing field, Penn State Continuing Education is launching the Geospatial Information Systems Technician Certification Program Oct. 13 in Philipsburg.

"The job market for GIS technicians is fairly good," said Tina Enderlein, Penn State GIS officer and instructor for the certificate program. "One example is the oil and gas industries in Pennsylvania. They are using the maps and drawings created by GIS technicians working in the field to locate underground resources and determine where to drill in the Marcellus Shale. The certificate program will give students the skills, knowledge, background and software experience, through lab work, to apply for GIS technician jobs."

Enderlein is teaching the four courses in the certificate program with George Baumer, research assistant. Both are members of the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment.

According to the Guide to Geographic Information Systems (, "a geographic information system integrates hardware, software and data for capturing, managing, analyzing and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information."

GIS jobs exist in many fields, from environmental science to mining to urban planning to commercial businesses to defense. Cartographers, computer programmers, database administrators, project managers, system administrators and others use GIS in their work to visualize, analyze and model systems to help others involved in organizations' planning and decision-making processes.

The first of the four courses, "Nature of Geographic Data and Spatial Information," begins on Oct. 13 and runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Nov. 19 at Philipsburg-Osceola Senior High School. This 33-hour course includes lab work in the school's computer lab. Students also will be able to use the lab on Thursday evenings for class activities. Future courses will be scheduled for spring 2010.

To enroll in the program, students need to be familiar with the Microsoft Windows operating system and suite of software applications and be able to navigate the Internet. The first course provides students with the fundamentals of geography and geospatial technology and geographic information systems.

For more information and to register for the first course, contact Leslie Demmert, Penn State Continuing Education, at 814-867-2160 or

Penn State Continuing Education at Philipsburg is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education, which serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 114 countries worldwide.



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Last Updated September 11, 2009