Digital Quest Partners with SkillsUSA for National Geospatial Student Competition to Determine Best in the Nation

April 6, 2006 -- Ridgeland, MS – Digital Quest, Inc. has joined in partnership with SkillsUSA to develop a competition program that will provide universities, colleges and their students with a way to validate their geospatial program and measure them against national standards. The competition will allow geospatial students to showcase their skills at a national level and compete for the SkillsUSA title of best in the U.S. for geospatial technology. The partnership also includes: ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute); SPACESTARS; Leica GeoSystems GIS & Mapping; GITA (Geospatial Information & Technology Association); and the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology.

The Geospatial Technology industry is an emerging high growth sector of the U.S. economy that is expected to reach more that $21 billion in revenue over the next few years. Geospatial technologies help us understand where we are spatially on the earth and how relationships between spatial features impact the earth's natural and man-made resources. Geospatial technologies include geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing (RS), and global positioning systems (GPS) technologies. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified the geospatial technology industry as one of the top three fastest growing career fields in the U.S., with a 15 percent growth in new jobs projected over the next decade.

SkillsUSA is instituting a college/postsecondary-only contest in Geospatial Technology at the 2006 SkillsUSA Championship in Kansas City, Missouri. College/postsecondary students studying GIS, RS and GPS from across the country will be invited to participate in an online qualifying test offered March through April. The test will be comprised of 150 questions selected by a computer from a test bank of more than 2,000 questions. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the questions will deal with technical knowledge of GIS, RS and GPS with the remaining 25 percent split between employability skills knowledge and general academic skills related to Geospatial Technology. The fee for taking the online qualifying test is $40, payable to SkillsUSA, which will include the '05-'06 SkillsUSA student magazine and other SkillsUSA materials, plus the opportunity to participate in SkillsUSA activities. The deadline for completing the first part of the competition, the GIS online qualifying exam, is the end of April.

Sixty (60) students with the highest scores (ties broken by earliest test date) will be invited to Kansas City to participate in the national Geospatial Technology contest of the SkillsUSA Championships. Contestants invited to Kansas City will be required to pay the SkillsUSA conference registration fee and will be asked to prepare a specific GIS project in advance using a SPACESTARS certification project kit (the $200 kit cost waived), including a 60-day license of ESRI ArcView software. In Kansas City, the contestants will orally defend that project, as well as take a written technical knowledge test and a hands-on test of Geospatial Technology skills.

The Kansas City contestants whose aggregate score reaches at least 75 percentile will be awarded STARS certification. STARS (Spatial Technology and Remote Sensing) is a fully-developed "turn-key" certification program for high schools, colleges and universities as well as career professionals looking to integrate geospatial tools into their on-the-job skill set. The gold medalist will receive a complete ArcGIS ArcView and four Extensions software package worth $10,000 and a $1,000 stipend to reimburse travel expenses to Kansas City, as well as registration to attend the ESRI Education User Conference in California. Prizes for the silver and the bronze medalist include the ArcGIS software package, registration to the EdUC, and $500 and $250 stipends, respectively. Prizes and awards for other contestants are still in development.

The GIS Group currently serving as the technical committee for SkillsUSA includes: Susan Radke of Berkeley Geo-Research Group; Eddie Hanebuth of Digital Quest, Inc.; George Dailey, Charlie Fitzpatrick, and Ann Johnson of ESRI; Robert Samborski of Geospatial Industries Technologies Association (GITA); Dr. Pamela Lawhead of the Institute of Advanced Education in Geospatial Sciences; Matt Falter of Leica GeoSystems GIS & Mapping, LLC; and Greg Hinkebein of the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology.

SkillsUSA continues to seek additional representatives for their Geospatial Technology national technical committee as well as judges, contest equipment, and prizes for the contest. For more information and complete details and sponsor list or to register for this exciting event, visit: http://www.skillsusa.org/compete/college.shtml.

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Digital Quest, Inc. is a Mississippi-based development and training oriented company with a primary focus of enabling educational institutions to provide skill training in the new and ever-more vital field of Geospatial Technology. Digital Quest, an active member of the EIGS geospatial technology cluster, is headquartered in Ridgeland, Mississippi and operates the SPACESTARS Geospatial Training Laboratory at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. For more information about Digital Quest, visit www.digitalquest.com or contact Eddie Hanebuth at 1-877-573-6683, Email Contact.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled work force. SkillsUSA serves more than 280,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations. More than 14,500 instructors and administrators are professional members of SkillsUSA. For more information, visit www.skillsusa.org.



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