Partnership provides skills, opportunities for students interested in GIS and drone careers

With organizations across the globe increasingly relying on location intelligence to make better decisions, careers in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are in demand more than ever. That’s why the Michigan’s MiSTEM Network has partnered with Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) and Eastern Michigan University (EMU) to offer a unique opportunity for students to take college-level GIS courses.

“The MiSTEM Network works to ensure that students all across Michigan have access to inspiring STEM learning opportunities that not only spark creativity but help them cultivate skills for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Megan Schrauben, executive director of the MiSTEM Network. “These are the partnerships we hope to model and grow so students gain the necessary skills to explore career options, and employers can find the qualified STEM talent they need to fill critical job openings across our state.”

These classes provide hands-on experiences and problem-solving abilities that give high school students the skills and certifications needed for entry level positions in the emerging field of Geospatial Technologies.

“We are excited that this partnership has come to fruition and afforded our students in the district an opportunity to explore a GIS career pathway that is both sustainable and marketable,” said Dr. Willie White, principal of Frederick Douglass Academy, a part of DPSCD.

The new partnership builds on the success of the Geospatial Technologies Talent Consortium (GTTC) working to build a Geospatial Information System (GIS) Talent Pipeline by offering courses to prepare students for technical certification and professional internships in GIS, which can start them on their path to a future career.

“The Consortium efforts and the collaboration on this internship opportunity highlights the vital need for state-wide partnerships to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers,” said Dr. Greg Johnson, director of the Wayne Regional STEM Network (MiSTEM Region 3). “The team continues to overcome the challenges produced by the pandemic and push the needle forward to help students explore STEM education and careers.”

“As we continue to examine meaningful ways to support STEM learning opportunities, we are excited to join this effort and give our students the chance to explore and build skills that will provide them with future opportunities in a wide variety of fast-growing GIS careers,” said Chalena Beasly, assistant principal of DPSCD.

Students enrolled in GIS courses are exposed to data visualization and spatial analysis skills to help them analyze and assess real-world problems. They are utilized across all economic sectors including autonomous vehicle infrastructure, emergency preparedness, environmental science including climate change modeling, urban planning and more.

According to research done by the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market information, the skills gained from these courses will lead to high-demand, high-wage careers. Several of these jobs land on Michigan’s “Hot 50 Jobs through 2028,” such as Computer and Information Systems Managers, Computer Systems Analysts, and Computer User Support Specialists which directly utilize the skill set gained through these courses.

Upon successful completion of the courses, students will be placed in internships with local businesses to give them the hands-on experience in the field.

“This is a great example of how we are improving our high schools to make the experience more academically relevant and exciting for students,” said Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of DPSCD. “We appreciate the partnership with the MiSTEM Network and Eastern Michigan University and hope to continue to attract industry specific programming for our students.”

EMU is a leader in the effort to expand teaching of GIS in Michigan schools. Professor Yichun Xie, director of EMU’s Institute for Geospatial Research and Education, oversees the university’s efforts in this arena. “There are countless opportunities for careers in GIS. As the demand for these skills accelerates, EMU is proud to be a leader in the effort to connect students to these opportunities and help facilitate the growth of this field,” said Xie.

Employers interested in hiring an intern from this program are encouraged to contact Educational Data Systems Inc. (EDSI) at or

To learn more about the GIS internship program and other ways the state is preparing students for careers of the future, visit