GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 74-5
Presentation Time: 2:35 PM


NOCITA, Bruce, S&ME Inc., 111 Kelsey Lane, Suite E, Tampa, FL 33619, RAINS, Mark, School of Geosciences, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620 and RYAN, Jeffrey, School of Geosciences, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620

Recent national efforts aimed at reforming undergraduate and graduate education in the geosciences have found consensus on needs to enhance the professional skills of graduates (e.g., communication, teamwork/collaboration, project management, career awareness), as well as their quantitative/computational capabilities. The USF Department of Geology (now the USF School of Geosciences), has worked curricularly and with our alumni/employer partners to provide direct instruction and professional development support in these areas for our undergraduate and graduate geology students.

A longstanding strategy focused on building student quantitative skills is GLY 3866: Computational Geology (e.g., Vacher, 2000, JGE), taught each semester by different Geoscience faculty. This course is central to the “quantitative” requirement in the USF Geology B.S. degree, in which undergraduates take several 3000-4000 level courses involving extensive quantitative/computational content. Our Geology Alumni Society, long active in supporting our program (see Ryan and Schackne, 2016: offers workshops, professional networking, and events aimed at connecting USF students to the regional geoscience professions. However, despite these activities we found many were unaware of their professional options as geoscientists. We now address this explicitly through “Preparing for a Career in the Geosciences,” a 2000-level, 1-hour offering in which students interact with visiting speakers drawn from our employer partners representing a range of professional sectors. Students write reflective statements on their in-class interactions with professionals, and they create career development plans for themselves involving both coursework and co-curricular professional opportunities. For graduate students our 6000-level “Introduction to Professional Geoscience” course provides instruction in geoscience business practices, licensure, and professional ethics. Students complete a course project in which they develop business proposals for “clients” drawn from our employer partners.

USF Geology programs maintain strong student cohorts (150-170 undergraduates; 70 MS and Ph.D.) despite a strong quantitative bent. Our graduates highlight their professional experiences and quantitative backgrounds as particular strengths of our programs.

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