questions for … Jay Morgan
Photo by Kanji Takeno
Geospatial Research and Education Laboratory fosters GIS research
TU undergraduate and graduate students gain real world experience working in the GRE lab says Jay Morgan, the lab's director.
Tell me about the lab's activities.
The lab itself—a room with several work stations designed for research activity—applies geospatial technologies, such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and global positioning systems (GPS), toward solving real- world problems. During most of the year about 10 TU faculty members and a half-dozen students use the lab. The lab fosters multidisciplinary research on geographic information sciences, promotes GIS education across the K-16 curriculum and provides TU undergraduate and graduate students with service-learning and internship opportunities.
How long has the lab been around?
It’s a work in process. My colleagues and I have been developing it since fall 2005, when I returned to the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning from DECO’s Center for Geographic Information Sciences [CGIS] to refocus my energies on teaching and research.
How does the lab benefit students?
It’s important for students coming out of geography and environmental planning who want to concentrate studies on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or remote sensing to gain hands-on experience with the software they’ll see in the workplace. Students work in the lab with state-of-the-art software on projects applying the skills they’ve learned in the classroom. For example, right now an undergraduate and I are working on a service learning project with the Howard County Department of Public works to predict where corrosion would be worst for water pipes in the county. In ways like this, TU students gain real-world experience before they graduate.
Can you describe the major gift the GRE lab received last spring?
Pictometry International Corporation donated two gifts of data and software collectively worth $535,000, which I’ve been told is the largest gift received by the College of Liberal Arts to date. The company produces and sells data sets of oblique aerial photographs, used principally by local governments. In contrast to aerial photographs, which are usually taken at high altitudes from directly overhead, oblique photographs capture low-altitude views from an angle, creating a richer data set. For example, an oblique aerial photo will show first responders a building’s points of entry in ways an overhead photo can’t. Pictometry gave us mapping data for Montgomery and Howard counties and said they would provide us with additional Maryland counties as data sets becomes available, so their gift to TU will eventually be worth significantly more. We’re training faculty on this new software at the end of this month.
How can other members of the TU community get started using geospatial technologies?
We offer a number of training programs for faculty and staff interested in learning about computer mapping. For more information, contact me at email@example.com or at x42964.
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