A combination of student spotlights and stories from current students and alumni.
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Before taking this certificate programme, I had been searching, over half a year, for a GIS programme suitable to my professional needs. Many factors were taken into consideration: quality, duration, tuition fee, pure online or not, and instructors' support. The GIS certificate programme offered by UWF is entirely to my satisfaction. This is a terrific programme that immediately opened up my eyes to realize the different possibilities of applying GIS knowledge in the industry, in my case, tourism and heritage management.
GIS was not entirely new to me when I enrolled as a student of the year 2011 cohort. I had preliminary working experience in GIS when working as a computer programmer in a water supply company back in 2003. This programme covered great details in using the ESRI ArcGIS software as well as the analysis tools in the Extensions, which are indispensable in solving real-world problems for which locations matter.
Unlike most other students, personally I do not live in North America. I live in Macau, Asia, in an entirely different time zone: UTC+08, with the latitude and longitude coordinates as 22º10'0" N and 113º33'0" E respectively. (By the time you study this programme, you will feel comfortable with those coordinates.) UWF provides us all the software tools online, and students just need reasonably fast Internet access, anywhere, anytime in the world. Therefore, it does not matter much where you are living as long as you take a note that all the assignment and quiz deadlines are expressed in US Central Time. The state-of-the-art computing facilities of UWF allow us to complete the programme on the Internet. Moreover, it is not necessary for students to acquire additional software on their own.
All the projects and assignments are practical and meaningful, and we put them onto the student blog for illustration, which can instantly impress our boss, colleagues and friends. Now I can create useful and visually-pleasing thematic maps. The outcome and feedback are always promising and encouraging. Last but not least, we had strong support from instructors and we learned a lot from other students as well. My sincere thanks to UWF!
Kong Lei, Alumni 2011
P. Hunter Key:
The UWF GIS program definitely expedited my career in GIS! Entering the program I had experience in editing and some cartography, however the program provided scenarios, projects and examples to enhance my personal resources dramatically in solving spatial problems in my organization. The intensity and time line of the program allowed me to develop and apply new GIS skill in my job which in turn, jump started my advancement. The educational GIS base and specific tool and analysis exposure is ideal for any individual interested in elevating their GIS skill from software user to professional practitioner. Thanks UWF!
P. Hunter Key, Alumni 2010
Attending this program not only taught me GIS skills, but I also gained confidence in my life skills. The discussion boards helped let me know that I was not the only person having a problem with some skills but it seemed that most of the time I was stumbling on something that most of the other students were. I am 59 years old and it's gratifying to know that I can still do excellent work as well as keep up with the younger generation. I loved sharing my stories as well hearing other students GIS stories. Using the ESRI extensions was a great plus because in local government they never purchase the extensions because of budget constraints. This allowed me to show management how useful the tool would be in our application. I am glad the new version of ESRI software includes analysis tools. I thought Remote Sensing would not be helpful to me but I was wrong. There are instances when software cannot classify features as well as a manual method. It expanded my knowledge about aerial interpretation. The light waves and some other things are still fuzzy to me but I intend to do more reading on the subject. I really enjoyed this class and have made many friends throughout this experience.
Diane Redwitz, Alumni 2011
The Certificate courses plunged right in from the beginning and kept a brisk pace to cover as much as possible while also allowing for more in-depth projects. For a newbie to GIS, the details of learning to use ArcGIS were incredibly important and were well-explained. As proficiency was gained in one area, new tools and/or skills were introduced. Process Summaries were required for each exercise in order to assist if there were any problems but also as a record of what was done for future reference. Support was strong among the cohort of students as well as from the instructors.
Angela Matusik, Alumni 2012