Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM
GRADUATING FROM A PROFESSIONAL SCIENCE MASTERS DEGREE INTO A CAREER IN THE GEOSCIENCES: EARLY LESSONS
A number of the early graduates from the Professional Masters in Environmental Monitoring at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are now either employed in the geosciences, or in related activities that encompass geoscience applications and research. As students, most of them did not fulfill traditional demographics for graduate programs in the sciences as a strong majority were mid-career applicants and more than half were women. Based on their success in finding jobs managing projects in spite of a challenging economy, their retooling in satellite remote sensing, geographic information systems, digital photogrammetry and other geospatial information technology applied to a wide spectrum of environmental problems, has demonstrably provided them with valuable and marketable proficiencies. This presentation will argue that the graduates foundation strengths in scientific disciplines, coupled with newfound spatial IT skills synthesized in management and decision making contexts, have enabled them to be well-employed in solving problems that may be best characterized by their broad scope. They include responsibilities such as mapping and automation to support managing the nation's natural gas, oil, and other mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf, to interpreting imagery of dust storms, hurricanes and volcanoes to facilitate disaster management around the globe as a member of the NASA MODIS Rapid Response Team, to engaging community members in using geospatial tools in rural Alaska as a means to enhance economic development.
Do the experiences of graduates like these suggest that their continually evolving spatial IT proficiencies will enable them to move laterally and proactively as new niche opportunities develop throughout the many geoscience enterprises? The case examples presented here provide an early window of opportunity to begin assessing the promise of professional science masters in the geosciences.