By Joey Gomez
McALLEN, TEXAS – South Texas College students came away with a wide variety of skills through an intensive workshop made possible through a partnership between STC and the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
More than 25 students with STC’s Engineering, Computer Science and Computer Information Technology (CIT) programs attended the workshop that had them brushing up on their skills in concepts like Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data science and cloud computing practices, among other cyber training workshops.
Using these skills, students tracked climate change trends, gauged rising sea levels and mapped increased flood risk in floodplains with real-world applications that are used to save lives.
Adnan Rajib, UTA Civil Engineering assistant professor and the director of the Hydrology and the Hydroinformatics Innovation (H2I) Lab at UTA was in attendance at the workshop.
Rajib acts as the principal investigator of a $1 million NSF project called “Cyber Training,” which is funded by NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure and led by Purdue University Professor Venkatesh Merwade. Rajib says his team seeks to develop next-generation approaches for data and computer-driven education on climate, water, and environmental sustainability.
STC Department Chair of Physical Sciences and Engineering Ravindra Nandigam, Ph.D., is a member of the project team, host and organizer of the Cyber Training annual workshop series.
STC is located within one of the most climate-vulnerable communities in the world. The proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes the college and the community it represents even more susceptible to the threats of floods and sea-level rise.
By attending Cyber Training workshops, multi-disciplinary students from STC will learn how to use the latest satellite data, GIS, geospatial science, cloud computing, and Artificial Intelligence to tackle these threats, according to Nandigam.
“We like our students getting exposed to these kinds of experiences, and our hope is that workshops like these provide valuable and meaningful experience that is applicable to their future careers,” Nandigam said. “Wherever these students go, and whatever field they find jobs in, workshops like these can only help them get ahead. They learn concepts in the classroom of course, and workshops like these help them apply these concepts.”
The workshop is the first of three planned between STC and UTA. Faculty with UTA say they plan to hold similar workshops annually with the college in order to give students valuable skills as they head into the workforce.
“This is cyber training that looks at how we can use data and cloud computing to develop the workforce and, in the process, look at how we can address climate change impact and flooding, which can ultimately save people” Rajib said. “We are bringing this new generation of data science so that those students who enter the workforce from South Texas College are ready to enter the job market and the climate change paradigm. We teach hands-on programming skills during this workshop and participants here can immediately add these new skills on their resume.”
STC student Brandon Segovia, who is pursuing an associate degree in Computer Science said he chose to participate in the workshop to build his skills as he looks ahead to his bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technology.
“This corresponds to my degree, so the need to understand more has always been my goal, especially as I enter an IT track,” Segovia said. “The opportunity to learn data skills and cloud computing…my father is also in the data science field, so this helps me learn a little more. The more knowledge I can learn about this field the better.”