[GRASS-user] ArcGIS, GRASS and employability

nicholas.g.lawrence at mainroads.qld.gov.au nicholas.g.lawrence at mainroads.qld.gov.au
Tue Sep 19 18:28:18 EDT 2006

> From: Roy Sanderson <R.A.Sanderson at newcastle.ac.uk>
> Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 08:51:47 +0000
> To: <grassuser at grass.itc.it>
> Subject: [GRASS-user] ArcGIS, GRASS and employability
> Hello
> Last spring I converted a short course I give to some of our MSc
> from ArcGIS 9 to GRASS 6.0.  Whilst the students had had no prior
> to GIS (or indeed Linux), it was obvious that they progressed through
> work much more rapidly and learnt more in terms of the fundamental
> concepts, and I was pleased with the overall results.
> However, the External Examiner's report for the MSc has criticised the
> change to GRASS, stating that "it isn't known outside Newcastle" and that
> it is harming the students' employment prospects on graduation.  The
> examiner is clearly wanting me to go back to using something like ArcGIS
> MapInfo in the GIS module.
> It would be useful if anyone could provide me with a few facts/figures on
> the use of GRASS outside of academia, especially in any large commercial
> companies etc.
> Many thanks
> Roy

It would be great if GRASS could be endorsed by an internationally-
recognised professional institution focused on the spatial information

Normally, professional institutions deliberately avoid endorsing one
vendor's product over another, for obvious reasons. Professionalism is
supposed to be about the skills you have, not the tools you use.

However, professional institutions are usually enthusiastic about
contributions to a body of knowledge. These include writing articles
for periodicals, publishing research, teaching materials, lectures
and seminars, mentoring, etc.

Free, open-source software is in the unique position of bridging
the divide between being a tool and being a body of knowledge. The code
is open and readable, and it can be argued that the code is essentially
an algorithm or procedure, a series of distinct steps that are carried
out to complete a technical task. Is source code any different to
other contributions to a professional body of knowledge? After all,
code is written, submitted, reviewed, edited and published.

Also, while a professional institution may be wary of endorsing a tool
that costs money, they may be willing to endorse a tool that is
available for free to the profession as a whole.

If this kind of endorsement could be achieved, it would be a coup
for GRASS.


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