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GIS Championship event to be held at UMPI

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will hold a regional GIS championship – one component of a statewide GIS program sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation – on Saturday, May 9, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Campus Center.

The Northern Maine GIS Championship, a poster competition for middle and high school students in northern Maine, involves students developing and submitting posters on a project they have done using computer mapping software and hardware. The event also will include GIS and GPS activities open to anyone interested in learning more about geospatial technology.

GIS, which stands for Geographic Information Systems, is a computing system designed to capture, store, analyze, and display geographic information and spatial data. GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system that can be used to calculate a precise location anywhere in the world.

According to Dr. Chunzeng Wang, an Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UMPI who is helping to judge the poster competition, the championship event is a fun way both to recognize the remarkable computer mapping projects students are doing in the region and the state, and to encourage them to delve even more deeply into the field of geospatial technology.

This event is part of the first, statewide GIS championship and is a component of a three-year project designed to improve and promote geospatial technology education in Maine. It is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation with additional support from the Maine 6-Campus GIS Consortium, the Maine GIS Users Group, the Maine Geographic Alliance, and Maine 4-H, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, and the Center for Community GIS.

During the Northern Maine competition, posters will be judged based on a point system by a team of geospatial technology professionals, including Dr. Wang and Ken Murchison of Northern Maine Development Commission. Winners will be selected in each category and regional champions will be invited to enter the finals scheduled to take place at the University of Maine at Machias in June. In addition to championship ribbons, winners will receive prizes and scholarships.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle, which launched its own GIS program three years ago, is pleased to serve as the host site of the Northern Maine competition. The University offers a two-semester GIS course sequence – GIS I in the spring, which focuses on fundamentals of GIS, and GIS II in the fall, with advanced spatial analysis skills and intensive real-world project training. Recently, the University approved a GIS Certificate program to provide students with another qualification for their future careers.

In addition, the faculty and staff in the GIS program are participating in a three-year Math and Science Partnership program funded by the U.S. Department of Education to work with local middle and high school math and science teachers to expose their students to modern GIS and GPS technologies. They have conducted numerous workshops and field data collections for teachers and students from all the middle and high schools in central Aroostook County.

For more information about the Northern Maine GIS Championship, contact Dr. Wang at 768-9412 or visit