TWENTY-PLUS YEARS OF A SUCCESSFUL EMPLOYER/ACADEMIC PARTNERSHIP IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA (Invited Presentation)
Through GAS, employers are heavily involved in our PSM degree in Geology. Our "Introduction to Professional Geology" course is taught jointly by a past GAS leader and USF faculty, and local employers serve as presenters/panelists and "customers" for student geo-business projects. Its capstone internship experience has students working under a Licensed Professional Geologist or Federal equivalent on real-world investigations, and presenting their results at a biannual Internship Symposium hosted by our Water Management District. The PSM Professional Advisory Committee was instrumental in the development and approval of this program, and is active in current efforts to revise and expand it. GAS and our employer partners are also central to our 2000-level majors course "Preparing for a Career in the Geosciences", and they offer a range of professional development programming for all our students, including networking events, workshops, panel discussions/colloquia on geoscience careers, and live on-campus demonstrations. These are in addition to their fundraising to create scholarship funds for graduate students, our field camp, and the development of a USF field station.
The expressed motivations for our employers’ involvement is that they want a say in the education of their future employees. The Geology faculty has worked to make sure they GOT that say by knocking down administrative obstacles to their involvement, and actively reaching out for their input and feedback. This work required some departmental "heroes" who made time in their professional lives to forge connections within our employer community, and was strongly facilitated by a succession of Department Chairs who invested dollars and assigned time to support these efforts.