Wantman Group commits $100,000 endowment to University of Florida geomatics program

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Mark Clark, left, a research assistant professor in UF’s soil and water science department, and Mitch Flinchum discuss a wetland elevation survey and placement of a water control structure near Lake Okeechobee. The red instrument on the yellow tripod is a laser leveling system that is used with a Global Positioning System to determine the elevation contour and water storage capacity of an isolated wetland near the lake. (Photo by Eric Zamora UF/IFAS)

Wantman Group (WGI) has announced a commitment to donating $100,000 over the next five years to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Geomatics Program with the goal of stimulating the growth and number of graduates attracted to its highly rated program.

The demand for qualified licensed surveyors is greater than the supply, not just in Florida, but across the nation, WGI said in a news release. “WGI is committed to supporting the University of Florida’s efforts to make the geomatics program the best in the nation through academic excellence, leading-edge technology, and high educational standards,” the announcement said.”

“As a University of Florida graduate, I noticed the number of qualified applicants for our professional positions had seen a decline from my alma mater and also from every other university level program,” said WGI president David Wantman.“It prompted us to become more engaged in U of F’s outreach to attract more students to the surveying profession.”

Dr. Tim White, the director of the School of Forest Resources and Conservation (which houses the geomatics program), said: “Faculty and students will benefit from the relationship with the Wantman Group, through their endowed fund as well as its commitment to support of the program through internships, involvement in teaching, and gifts of equipment, that will help catapult our program to one of the elite surveying and mapping programs in the US. “

WGI senior vice-president Robin Petzold is spearheading the partnership, the announcement said. “This endowment is not just monetary. WGI will also assist the university with a media marketing effort directed by our WGI Creative division, make equipment donations, and provide adjunct faculty.”

“I am already guest lecturing and teaching classes,” he said. “Our involvement will be across the board.”

In addition to the five-year endowment, which will be gifted in $20,000 increments, WGI will:

  • Work directly with the University of Florida’s geomatics program to develop and execute a comprehensive strategic media marketing plan, spearheaded by WGI Creative, to recruit students at the regional, national, and even international levels.
  • Assist the geomatics department by donating equipment to facilitate the use of up-to-date technologies to be used in its educational process.
  • Provide guest lecture appearances as requested by the university to instruct and demonstrate emerging technologies that will aid in the students’ professional knowledge and growth.
  • Provide adjunct faculty instruction for upper-level courses as requested to provide up-to-date education through lifelong-experience teaching.
  • Provide substantive internship opportunities to give students hands-on and progressive experience to enhance their educational learning.

“That’s the long game,” said Petzold. “We hope our efforts with the University of Florida will stimulate growth in the shorter term, as the industry is hungry for young, talented professionals. We can, at the very least, stimulate growth in the profession at the regional level – and offer these talented young students placements after graduation.”

“We’re all on the right track.”

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