Ever seen a cool, interactive map that presents a lot of information really clearly, and wondered how someone created it? It was likely created using Geographical information systems (GIS), and students in Professor Kim Diver’s Introduction to GIS course (E&E 280) learned how to create maps like those and much more during their course work this fall.
Geographical information systems (GIS) are powerful tools for organizing, analyzing, and displaying spatial data. GIS has applications in a wide variety of fields including the natural sciences, public policy, business, and the humanities–literally any field that uses spatially distributed information. In this course the students explored the fundamentals of GIS with an emphasis on practical application of GIS to solve problems from a range of disciplines.
I had the opportunity to watch this semester’s service-learning project presentation where 17 undergraduate students presented on different projects for community partners like Soils, Solar, Long Lane, Aerial Photos, and Recreation. Graduate students also had the opportunity to present on topics related to their thesis research! The project included five fundamental components: project planning and design, database development and management, GIS data analyses, output generation, and project synthesis/documentation
The objective of the project was to create a GIS and conduct data analysis and visualization for a community partner. Students created a GIS fulfilling the main objective of one of the semester’s available projects. I was extremely impressed by the students’ mastery of the subject in just one semester! Each presentation demonstrated the students’ knowledge in data collection, management, editing, analysis, and cartographic design. I learned a range of topics such as Dharma Lea farm history to resilience of life in Paulina Lake to solar panels suitability in Middletown!
Knowledge of the basics of GIS can be helpful on a variety of different projects across disciplines, and this course is a great way to learn those basics while also producing meaningful work for organizations in our community. Professor Diver is also offering an Advanced GIS and Spatial Analyses course (E&E 380) this spring. Congratulations to the students in the course on their wonderful final presentations!