From detecting greenhouse gases to tracking harmful algal blooms and even monitoring natural resources, satellite technology allows NOAA to observe changes to Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The National Research Council emphasized the importance of highly trained remote sensing technical staff for interpreting and translating these complex data for use by the public and private sectors. If the United States is to remain on the forefront of this technology, it is critical to train our next generation in remote sensing technology.
Conferences provide a unique opportunity for students, novice researchers, experts, and product developers to build relationships, present and learn about new ideas, and solve problems. However, there are a limited number of conferences that focus on remote sensing and even fewer that allow for specialized training for users at all levels on cutting-edge satellite data. The 2017 NOAA Satellite Conference offsite link was able to fill this gap. The 2017 Conference focused on the theme, “A New Era of NOAA’s Environmental Satellites.” It was sponsored by NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service and hosted by the NOAA Center for Earth System Sciences and Remote Sensing Technologies offsite link (CREST) at the City College of New York. In keeping with the theme, conference sessions focused on educating students and professionals about the capabilities of NOAA’s new satellite systems that will launch or become operational in the near future, including the next-generation geostationary satellites known as the GOES series and JPSS-1, the first of NOAA’s new polar-orbiters.
More than 390 participants from 40 countries attended the conference, including 220 students and young professionals. The main conference was held from July 17-20, 2017, preceded by a two-day workshop with more than 90 participants. CREST, in partnership with other institutions across the nation, is funded by NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program with Minority-Serving Institutions and focuses on recruiting and retaining students from underrepresented groups. At the conference, students showcased the results of their collaborative research projects through posters and oral presentations. Organizers held training sessions geared toward students and introductory users on GOES and JPSS. The organizers sponsored a career fair during the conference, where students were able to gain career insights and potential job leads. Students were also matched with NOAA employees to gain one-on-one experience through mock interviews.
The conference engaged students from NOAA Cooperative Science Centers and City University of New York campuses, diverse populations that include significant numbers of students from underrepresented minority communities. This conference provided the students and faculty an out-of-the-classroom educational and professional experience. The use of SLI.do, a tool designed to foster audience interaction, and social media helped conference organizers gain valuable insights and feedback from the participants. Twenty-seven percent of participants found the conference “relevant” to their jobs and 59% found it “very relevant.”
This story was originally published as part of the 2017 NOAA Education Accomplishments Report.