The MGI will have a physical presence on each of the seven UMS campuses through Project Centers. These Centers will provide important venues for experiential learning-based education and research in geospatial science by following a collaborative partnership model with industries, agencies, and communities. This structure will connect the MGI and students directly with prospective employers and citizens of Maine.
These Centers will be engines of economic, technical, and intellectual growth by implementing experiential, project-based learning that provides students with opportunities to apply classroom instruction to “real-world” problems while gaining workplace skills. Developing learning opportunities in partnership with industries, agencies, and communities forges connections between students and prospective employers, where students learn how to work in cross-disciplinary teams to address complex questions, and experience the workflow of a “real-world” job from concept through development to application and evaluation. MGI Project Centers will provide venues to develop, foster, and achieve this collaboration. Project Centers will also offer an important community service where teams of undergraduate and graduate students can work collaboratively with community stakeholders to address community issues and build relationships and educational opportunities that benefit the non-academic community.
MGI will offer Project Center courses, similar to a capstone course, and open to junior, senior, or graduate-level students. Research experience is one of the most effective avenues for attracting undergraduate students to and retaining them in science and engineering, and for preparing them for careers in these fields; Campus Project Centers provide a natural home for undergraduate research experience in geospatial technologies. Campus Project Center projects also will offer opportunities for non-academic collaborators to earn Continuing Education credits.
Students enrolled in Campus Project Center courses will work in teams on stakeholder supported projects. While several UMS faculty currently offer such courses on individual campuses, coordination through the Project Centers enhances such course offerings, brings in additional community, agency, and industry partners, and engages more students through collaborative learning opportunities across the system. New and enhanced course offerings through MGI will take advantage of industry and government partnerships through Project Center activities and help connect the classroom to the work environment.
Project Centers will have the following goals and approaches:
- Projects undertaken through the Project Centers will be proposed collaboratively by faculty/staff, students, agencies, industries, municipalities, NGOs, or nonprofits (hereafter “partners”).
- Undergraduate student teams will be selected and matched with partners based on interests, skills, and project requirements.
- Undergraduate student teams will be advised by MGI faculty/staff and partners, who will work with teams to address community and/or partner spatial information research questions from project start to finish.
- Graduate students may work through a Project Center as interns or as part of a thesis or dissertation project, with oversight provided collaboratively by faculty and industry/agency advisors.
- Graduate students may work in collaboration with faculty advisors to mentor undergraduates, seek external funding, or use graduate assistantships to support projects.
- Center projects may provide opportunities for Continuing Education training for project partners.
- Faculty and partner representatives will collaborate to ensure projects meet both academic and partner needs
- Project Centers provide a location for team meetings, project work, and remote conferencing with expertise within state, regional, national, and global networks.
- Project Centers would occupy a currently existing physical space on each campus, providing dedicated student workspaces, conference spaces, and research and faculty offices as needed, as well as a place to showcase the campus’ Project Center work.
- Tool kits for students, faculty, and project sponsoring partners will be available on the MGI website. The kit resources describe the student-faculty-sponsor relationship, provide project examples and guidance for developing projects, and documents for establishing the partnerships.