Grenfell, CNA and Natural Resources Canada collaborate on master’s degree in applied geomatics

The new master of science in applied geomatics is a true union of theory and application. 

The program is the brainchild of researchers and practitioners at Grenfell Campus, College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Corner Brook campus and Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service. The M.Sc. (Applied Geomatics) program was approved by Memorial University’s Board of Regents earlier this month. 

“We’re thrilled to build on our well-established connections with CNA’s Corner Brook campus and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS),” said Dr. Jeff Keshen, vice-president, Grenfell Campus. “This program builds on core strengths in geomatics training at CNA, and on a diverse set of researchers with research programs that are spatial in nature at Grenfell Campus and its provincial and federal partners.” 

He emphasized that the development of the program was the product of true collaboration, involving individuals from Grenfell, CNA, and CFS, who recognized a need and a local opportunity to train highly skilled GIS users to fulfill that need. Dr. Robert Scott of Grenfell’s School of Science and the Environment worked closely with Mr. Darin Brooks, GIS applications specialist (post-diploma) instructor at CNA, and Dr. Brian Eddy, a research scientist at CFS in Corner Brook, among other practitioners and researchers in the field and at other Canadian post-secondary institutions. 

The innovative degree combines the latest research in various academic fields with training in advanced geomatics information technology. Geomatics, or geoinformatics, generally refers to the use of geospatial and geostatistical technology to collect, organize, store, integrate, analyze, interpret, report, and disseminate geographic information. 

“The geomatics industry contributes substantially to Canada’s GDP (gross domestic product), with an approximate $20-billion contribution through design, implementation and use of geomatics products,” said Brent Howell, dean, School of Natural Resources and Industrial Trades. “The M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program is designed to attract stakeholder engagement across a variety of government and non-government stakeholders. CNA is delighted to have a role in this three-party collaboration, so that we can provide a solid foundation for graduates so they can continue their pursuit of a master’s degree.” 

Students who enroll in the master’s program will receive comprehensive contemporary instruction (theory and applied) in several sub-disciplines: geographic information systems (GIS), geospatial/geostatistical analysis, geovisualization, geodatabase design, remote sensing, programming, global positioning systems (GPS), project management, and others. 

“When today’s students enter the workforce they are increasingly required to work with specialists from diverse disciplines to address complex problems,” said Dr. Scott, adding that the notion of “mapping” is becoming an increasingly integral requirement in many subject areas within the natural sciences and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities. “The program will offer students the opportunity to become geospatial specialists while applying their expertise to a research project, developing the high-level expertise across all geospatial techniques at the outset followed by the opportunity to apply expertise to a master’s thesis project.” 

The M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program will train students in a field that has a high employability rate – roughly 20,000 individuals are employed in geomatics-related jobs in Canada. 

“The Canadian Forest Service, situated in Grenfell’s Forest Centre, will provide a rich and rewarding opportunity for these M.Sc. students and NRCan scientists to interact on projects of mutual interest,” said Dr. Eddy. “The west coast of Newfoundland provides an ideal environment for research in ecology, natural resources, and community and regional development. This, combined with its smaller community setting and presence of a number of provincial and federal government agencies and other stakeholders in the region, provides a unique advantage with regard to offering this applied master-level program.”

Students wishing to enroll in the program must have completed an undergraduate degree, as well as the nine-month GIS applications specialist (post-diploma) program at CNA before they will be admitted into the M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program. 

Individuals wishing more information on the M.Sc. (applied geomatics) program should contact Dr. Scott at rscott@grenfell.mun.ca

To learn more about the GIS applications specialist program, visit: www.cna.nl.ca.

For information about CFS, visit the Atlantic Forest Centre here.

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