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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Geography students selected to participate in geospatial scholarship program

Students majoring in geography are getting a little extra help with their expenses through a geospatial scholarship program.

New Mexico State University's Department of Geography has received federal funds for the Geography Geospatial Scholars Program, designed to create a model curriculum for teaching Cartography, Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing courses.

The scholarship awards $3,500 to 23 students in the department, who will use the money for tuition and other fees.

"Students receiving the scholarships are building up their skills in cartography, geographic information systems and remote sensing," said John Wright, department head. "The careers they will begin after graduation could include work with federal agencies of all kinds, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, FEMA, Census Bureau, Federal Highways, U.S. Intelligence Community and many state agencies."

Wright added that employment in the private sector with engineering firms, conservation organizations and non-profit groups will be available to the students after they graduate.

As part of the program, the students will be arranged in groups based on their level of experience with geospatial techniques. They will be required to attend regular work meetings and must also participate in the Summer 2009 Geospatial Scholars Lab, where they will assist faculty and apply the different teaching methods they learned during the year.

Students participating in the program must maintain a grade of "B" or better in their geography classes and must also take pre- and post-tests on their geospatial knowledge and skills. These tests will be used to see how well the different teaching approaches work and will not reflect on a student's grade point average.

Students from their freshman to senior year were eligible to apply for the program.

The money is a federal earmark that the New Mexico congressional delegation passed in Washington, D.C., Wright said, through the Department of Defense. He added that they are especially grateful to U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson for her support of the project and U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman for his work on the project.

Wright said the continuation of the program is contingent on the approval of the 2009-2010 budget. He said they should know by January whether the program will be funded again.