Written by Ezra Ekman
Illustration by Madison Otten
Although FRCC has traditionally been focused on associate degrees and vocational certificates, FRCC will begin offering a bachelor’s degree in geospatial science this fall. Some low-level courses will be available in Westminster, but the majority of the classes for both associate and bachelor degrees in geospatial science must be taken at the Boulder FRCC campus.
Jennifer Bird Crandall, a career counselor at the Career Success Center, was excited about the new offering.
“Geographic information systems is the study of lots of things,” said Crandall. “It’s how space relates to geography. Geo is landforms or geography. Information systems are how we collect or organize that data. The way I usually explain it to students is: you’re buying a house and you want to insure that house against events. How does the insurance company figure out the rate or basically the risk factor of, let’s say, a flood on your house? The geographic data is something they’re going to look at to see how often that area might flood. Based off of that information, this is how much your flood insurance might cost. So, people who go into this field, into GIS, are the people who collect that information using all sorts of tools.”
Average national growth across all industries was roughly 6.5 percent in 2018. But geospatial sciences has been growing at roughly double that, giving it a “bright outlook,” according to O-Net Online, a career exploration and job analysis site recommended by the FRCC Career Success Center.
FRCC adviser Samuel Anderson-Lehman confirmed that students would be able to register for the bachelor’s program as early as fall of 2019.
“We’ve had the associates for a while, at least a few years,” said Anderson-Lehman. “As for the bachelor’s, the first cohort [a group that begins in a program together] starts in the fall. You have to pretty much have the associates done in order to begin the bachelor’s in the fall.
“The bachelor’s degree is hosted on the Boulder Campus, and many of the associates classes are also completed there. A big thing is knowing you’ll have to be at the Boulder Campus to get the degree, but they can take some courses like the GIS 101 foundational course here at the Westminster Campus. Generally, it’s a high, in-demand, job skill, and can be a good fit for people who have interests in geography as a whole, or, if they’re looking for something, maybe like within technology or IT, but in an applied field. It was the first program we were developing at the bachelor’s level. Now it’s happening that it and the bachelor’s in nursing are coming around at the same time. In addition to that big piece, it’s big because we’re filling in a void that exists within other existing bachelor’s programs.”
Other than a program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, FRCC is the only school to offer this bachelor’s-level degree anywhere else in the region.
“It’s a great way to get a technical degree in a field that has hundreds of job openings available,” said Anderson-Lehman. FRCC has hosted geospatial science internship events, and the Career Success Center also recommends using O-Net Online to research available jobs and career options.