New program teaches spatial data analysis

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September 14, 2009

10:34 AM

This year, the College unveiled the new Center for Geospatial Analysis on the second floor of Swem Library. As I am enrolled in the Environmental Science GIS class this semester, I am getting a lot of personal time with the new CGA center. Let me tell you a little about GIS at the College.

GIS is a tool generally associated with the environmental sciences, but GIS can really be used in a variety of disciplines. If you haven’t heard of it, GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems. It is a mapping tool that presents data spatially. As examples, it could present something like population density or water usage over an area. It is considered an extremely useful tool for any field dealing with data that relates to a geographic area. For any seniors, GIS is an exceptional skill to have if entering a research field.

The software is really called ArcGIS. It is available on most of the computers in campus computer labs, including Swem, Morton 240, Geology and the Keck Labs.

The GIS center is located where the Copy Center used to be. The center holds GIS workshops throughout the year; these are open to anyone and take about two hours. Currently, the College offers ENSP 204/Geol 204 GIS in the Earth/Environmental Sciences. The class is extremely hands-on, and students learn to use the software in class at the computers in the CGA lab. Each student takes part in a project toward the end of the year; they present posters explaining their projects. Stu Hamilton teaches the class. Hailing from Liverpool, England, Hamilton is currently researching mangrove deforestation in Ecuador.

The College also offers SOCL 440: Geographic Methods for the Social Sciences. The CGA has several partner programs, such the Keck Lab and biology department to name a few. More are found here.

The GIS center has a blog at here. This provides some more information on current projects, and it is also a resource for the class. Or if a student in the class has trouble with an assignment, they can post their question here for other students to answer. Those interested in GIS should check out opportunities to get involved in a research project.

Peace and love until next time!

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