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The Spring 2015 GIS certificate students and instructor Sarah McLane hosted a GIS Showcase on Wednesday, May 13 at the Maui Brewing Co in the Kihei Tech Park.

Students presented their final GIS 180 projects to over 40 attendees from diverse industries on Maui including Agriculture, Conservation and Technology. Project topics included endemic Hawaiian tree snail populations in Maui County, energy efficiency mapping, and effects of East Maui Irrigation seepage on stream health.

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Students conducted research and analyzed geographic data to address pressing real-world problems.

The student team of Naea Kalehuawehe and Heather Kotok conducted research on how to use GIS to analyze energy usage on commercial properties. Working at the Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company site, the students monitored energy use to pinpoint solutions to improve and possibly reduce the use of alternative fuels. Using GIS, they gathered data to identify inefficiencies within the company’s infrastructure that not only affected their use of energy, but hindered their employees work environment as well.

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“The GIS Certificate program has given me the freedom to choose where I would like to go in my education and has opened new career options for me,” said Sustainable Science Management major Heather Kotok.

Student Judson Laird was inspired to use GIS to see where the ideal locations of shrimp farms on the island were located. Laird was interested in exploring how sustainable shrimp farming could support the island’s need for protein while conserving the ocean’s resources and avoiding overfishing.

“A world of opportunity awaits people developing skills in GIS,” said Craig Clouet, Solutions Engineer at Esri, a global GIS software company with an office in Honolulu.

“Many jobs use GIS extensively, and Esri supports that Maui College has been so proactive in educating and promoting GIS to their students. Students leaving the program with these abilities can go anywhere to meet the needs of both existing jobs, and those not yet invented,” he said.

GIS skills are in high demand on Maui through the growing high-tech industry.

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“At the Pacific Disaster Center, we are currently using GIS to help coordination of international disaster relief operations in Nepal by producing maps ranging from damage assessments to the location of international Search And Rescue teams. GIS is an integral part of the technologies employed at PDC for disaster risk reduction,” said Ray Shirkhodai, Executive Director.

UHMC students are also finding local jobs with companies like ArdentMC and IUE after completing the UHMC program.

“We look to hire candidates with GIS training and certifications as our projects focus on providing GIS services and assisting our customers to manage their critical missions,” said Dom McCombs, Technical Recruiter at ArdentMC.

“We have hired students from the UH Maui College GIS program and we will continue to do so, as they have added value, have experience, a good attitude and appreciation for the work,” said Joe Breman, President of IUE.

Visit our Spring 2015 Projects page to see a full list of student presentations.