RIVERSIDE, Calif.– Since September of 2006, Rachel Ginsberg, 25, of Riverside, has been to Texas, Ohio, Oregon and Cincinnati, yet while she visited those places, she never left her office in Irvine.
“I’ve been all over the country,” Ginsberg said, laughing.
Ginsberg is a GIS (geographic information systems) technician for Rand McNally, a prominent publisher of maps, atlases and globes for travel, commercial and educational purposes. Rand McNally hired Ginsberg last September, only three weeks after she completed the GIS Summer School at UCR Extension.
The GIS Summer School allows students to earn a GIS certificate in a two-month intensive summer program, which is what Ginsberg chose to do shortly after she graduated from UC Riverside with a B.A. in mathematics. The next School begins July 9, 2007.
GIS is a computer program designed to capture, store, check, integrate, analyze and display geographic information with descriptive information. GIS takes the information and connects it to a physical location and stores it in a digital format. Unlike a flat paper map, a GIS (digital map) can display many layers of information. Today, many businesses and nearly every government agency use GIS.
Ginsberg updates maps for Rand McNally, just one of many career opportunities in the field of GIS. She should have no trouble growing in this relatively new field. The GIS/geospatial market, which grew 17 percent in 2005, is expected to grow between $60 and $100 billion within the next decade.
“The Inland Empire got an early start using GIS primarily due to the presence of ESRI,” said Jon Kindschy, director of Science, Law and Health Programs at UCR Extension.
Headquartered in nearby Redlands, ESRI is the world’s leader in GIS software development. Local county governments in the area quickly adopted the use of GIS software in their own departments, and UCR Extension recognized the need to train skilled technicians and analysts to fill newly created jobs. “It was natural that we would provide continuing education opportunities and be the first to offer such a program in the country,” Kindschy said. “It’s been in place since the early ’90s, and we draw on instructors with long-time experience.”
In its 10th year, the unique Summer School draws participants from around the country and the world to learn about GIS. Many, like Rachel, are looking for new careers, others want to apply it in their current work, or seek an edge for job advancement. Including a special tour of the ESRI campus, the GIS Summer School also includes networking events and a tour of the Map Collection at UCR.