CGA White Paper

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					                                                              Center for Geospatial Analysis, 02/20/2009


Adapted From Mellon

One of the great challenges in promoting undergraduate research outside of laboratory science is finding
methods that can be applied in interdisciplinary research by large numbers of faculty members and
students. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is one of most exciting such methods. The use of GIS to
evaluate spatial relationships, organize and synthesize spatial data, and model spatially-dependent
processes is a rapidly expanding component of research across numerous disciplines, encompassing the
sciences, social science, humanities, and professional disciplines. This tool has the potential to provide a
common reference point from which to expand and integrate undergraduate research activity at several
levels and across many disciplines at William and Mary.

As almost all research disciplines generate data in a spatial context (e.g. soil layers, environmental
contaminants, historical trade routes, school districts, retail store sales) GIS has become fastest growing
and in-demand disciplines in academia and beyond. When all of the technical detail of GIS is removed,
GIS users are often involved in high level critical thinking developing their spatial reasoning skills
(Goodchild). Spatial reasoning is in many ways unique and a key component of critical thinking within a
broad range of disciplines from economics to geology. An article in Nature even argues that all scientific
observations should record location. Surprisingly, though, and despite the fact that we as a society
devote years of attention throughout the curriculum to developing verbal and mathematical skills, we
spend virtually no time at all developing spatial intelligence (Goodchild). This is the primary function of
the CGA.

Scholars and scientists have been in the forefront of using GIS both nationally and at the College of
William and Mary. We are convinced that we can use GIS to teach a wide range of faculty members how
to mentor students in a host of innovative research projects. In addition, GIS is a much-desired skill with
a growing number of employers. Experience with this tool will assist students seeking opportunities
ranging from summer internships to permanent jobs following graduation. As evidence, the field of
Geospatial Technology, which centers on the use of GIS, has been identified by the U.S. Department of
Labor as one of 12 “Substantial Growth” sectors of the US economy.

Current state of GIS at William and Mary.
           This GIS curriculum at William & Mary consists of an introductory GIS class offered twice each
semester at the undergraduate level. The Sociology department also offer a follow-on class aimed at
utilizing GIS in the social sciences. This course is currently offered in the fall semester. During fall 2010
an additional class focusing on the role of GIS in land use conservation will be offered by the Biology
department. This class will also be offered in future years. Each summer VIMS students are offered a
graduate level class that emphasizes spatial analyses. GIS is also utilized within other courses at W&M
including courses offered by Geology, Anthropology, and Public Policy. Student and faculty currently
utilize GIS with active research in History, Biology, The Institute for the Theory and Practice of
International Relations, Geology, Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy, Education, Anthropology,
Education, Law, Environmental Science and the Virginia Institute for Marine Sciences. In addition to the
traditional offerings the CGA provides numerous workshops each semester that teach students, faculty,
and staff applications of GIS within their specialty. All these offerings occur in one 14-seat laboratory.
We currently have to turn students away from these workshops and the traditional class offerings due to
                                                              Center for Geospatial Analysis, 02/20/2009

high enrollment. Despite offering or supporting all these GIS programs and maintaining the campus GIS
infrastructure the CGA currently receives little or no direct financial support from the State. All these
curriculum offerings are supported by private giving primarily from the Mellon Foundation. It should be
noted that the current Mellon funding due to expire in 2011 does not have the capital available to
undertake physical improvements to the CGA nor are such improvements in the scope of the Mellon
          A primary goal of the CGA is to provide and to promote GIS teaching and research support
across the campus. Our ability to meet this goal with sufficient GIS offerings and services, particularly in
the undergraduate research arena, requires space dedicated to developing the Center. The CGA has a
dedicated space in which to operate (second floor of SWEM) but lacks the finances to repurpose the
space for the needs of a robust GIS teaching and research facility. Occupying the Swem Library space
emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature and campus-wide reach of the CGA and provides a hub for GIS
teaching and research. The demand for GIS will continue to increase as more students realize the
importance of a GIS component in their education and new faculty are hired who bring GIS experience to
the College. The improvement and expansion of GIS facilities on campus would benefit students from
across the entire spectrum of departments, programs, and schools at W&M. Few if any parts of the
W&M curriculum can claim to have a reach that includes numerous departments and programs inside
Arts and Sciences, VIMS, Education, Law, and Business.
          By increasing the number of GIS seats available through the creation of a new GIS lab (and
improving the existing facility) the GIS program can potentially double the number of students we reach.
The proposed facility will allow for two courses to be taught concurrently in the CGA and more importantly
allow students conducting GIS research to work during scheduled classes. Currently in the fall semester
we have 4 students for every GIS seat we can offer and this ratio is predicted to worsen as new GIS
courses come online but our available teaching space remains static. During the this semester we have
56 students working on GIS projects and laboratory exercises but only 14 available seats.
          Not only will the number of GIS offerings and potential for student research increase with this
funding but the quality of offerings will improve. The CGA currently has no equipment that allows
students to work in stereo or allow students to process large datasets (such as lidar). Both of these
technologies will be available in this funding is approved. For example, GEOL427: Topographic Analysis
will be completely revised and moved into the new GIS facility. This updated course will involve
topographic mapping utilizing lidar data, Stereo GIS, and robotic field surveys. Formal instruction will
take place in the new laboratory and students will work on class projects in the research area of the CGA
using equipment from item 2 in this request. Within Geology alone 3 other courses (320, 315, 427) will
have components of the course taught in the new facility.

          (can we mention how this compliments Mellon (Mellon was more people / curriculum but
left us short of infrastructure)

Primary Funding Goal. To enhance and expand the CGA infrastructure to provide GIS instruction and
research support for all students, faculty, and staff at W&M that meets the challenge of providing a 21st
Century inter-disciplinary liberal arts education. To achieve this goal three areas of need have been

 1. Refurbish the CGA to become a teaching and research center for campus GIS activity across all
    colleges and disciplines.
    Objective 1 Total = $160,000 One time

        Repurpose the physical infrastructure of the CGA to expand the GIS teaching facility that is
         utilized by the public as well as the campus community. Primary focus will be the addition of a
         second lab for expanded curriculum offerings.

                                                            Center for Geospatial Analysis, 02/20/2009

       Repurpose the physical infrastructure of the CGA to act as a GIS research facility and
        cartographic laboratory
       Repurpose the physical infrastructure of the CGA to house GIS server, storage and custom
       Add required office to the CGA

2. Equip the CGA with the hardware and software required to deliver a 21st-Century GIS curriculum.
    Objective 2 Total = $100,000 one time

       Upgrade the GIS teaching instructional hardware to allow for utilization of cutting-edge GIS
        applications such as environmental 3D modeling, real-time GIS mapping deployment and
        Stereo GIS
       Provide students with access to the “tools of the trade” including map production equipment,
        heads-up digitizing equipment, GPS collection devices, field computers, and remote sensing
        software and hardware
       Provide adequate digital storage

3. Hire a part-time geospatial analyst supported by student labor to offer GIS support services and
    expand library offerings.
    Objective 3 Total = $55,000 annually ($155,000 requested)

       A GIS technician will support the instruction of GIS as a lab technician, maintain the geospatial
        facility, and provide support and training to W&M faculty interested in incorporating GIS in their
        coursework or research projects. They will also staff the help desk and provide library specific
        GIS services such as topographic map delivery, census data / demographic mapping, historical
        aerial photography, and access to governmental resources currently unavailable to students
        through the Swem library. Examples of expanded library offerings would Landsat 1 – 7 land-
        cover archive housed at the Global Land Cover Facility (1970s – present), this historic social
        science and census data housed at IPUMS, the high-resolution topographic laser data housed
        at NOAA, access to all current and prior W&M generated GIS data. Currently the library has
        neither the infrastructure nor expertise to access and deliver such geospatial data. Above is just
        a small sample of the increased data holdings that will be made available to W&M faculty and
        students if funding is improved.
Budget Details

        Objective 1
        Refurbish the former CGA to become a teaching and research center for campus GIS activity
        across all colleges and disciplines

        1.1 Expand the size of the GIS laboratory (2nd computer lab), create one additional office, and
        add a dedicated equipment room
        One time cost

        1.2 Provide the required network drops, power, podium equipmentm and furniture for the
        expanded teaching facility, new office and equipment room.
        One time cost

                                                        Center for Geospatial Analysis, 02/20/2009

                                                                      Objective 1 Total = $160,000

    Objective 2
    Equip the CGA with the hardware and software required to deliver a 21st-Centruy GIS

    2.1 Develop six Linux based dual-boot system to allow students and faculty to have access to
    the ever growing open source GIS software including GRASS, Quantum GIS, Post GIS and
    over 100 hundred other open source GIS tools. The machines must be stereo capable.
    Item life = 7 years.

    2.2 Allow students to check-out one of 3 robust GPS units or one of two mobile GIS field
    Item life = 3-7 years.

    2.3 Additional 16 lab computers, projector, and smart podium

                                                                      Objective 2 Total = $100,000

    Objective 3

    Hire a geospatial technician to offer GIS support services and expand the library offerings.

    3.1 Hire a technician with the duties listed above for a period of 3-years.
    Upon completion of the 3 year assignment continued employment is contingent on securing
    external funding from research grants or GIS projects developed by the infrastructure put in
    place by the funding requested in this document.
    $165,000 annually

                                                                      Objective 3 Total = $125,700

                                                                Total Request = $314,600

                                                            Center for Geospatial Analysis, 02/20/2009

Grand Challenge 1 - Lead Higher Education as a Model Liberal Arts University

Grand challenge one could have been written to describe GIS at William and Mary. The CGA is
department, program, and in many ways school independent. It is the epitome of how inter and intra-
disciplinary programs can flourish while seeking solutions to grand challenges of a global nature.
         During the last six months within the GIS lab you will find students from Anthropology using
GIS, to assist in examining laude-use patterns during the plantation period of Oahu (Jessica Way). A
history student has just completed her senior project using GIS mapping software to help explain the
role of recent Haitian immigration to Montreal (Liz Yohn) while alongside her a VIMS graduate student
(Debra Parthree) is planning on applying the principle of spatial auto-correlation to help her monitor
the environmental conditions in the Chesapeake Bay. A Geology student completing his senior
project is conducting spatial analysis while examining the impact on inland rivers caused by the
geologically recent period of sea-level readjustment (Kyle Grimsley) while a Biology team of graduate
and undergraduate students (Kelly Hallinger, Mikaela Howie and others) are utilizing satellite data to
monitor bird health in polluted environments. A computer science major (Tom macWright)is learning
the skills to distribute interactive maps over the internet next to a Sociologist (Michelle McKenzie) who
is interested in learning how to combine her activist stance against mountain top removal by working
alongside a mountain top removal specialist from private GIS industry (David Campagna). Faculty
and their students from Sociology (Dr. Saporito, Erica Smith, Korey Erb and Seung Hea Han) are
utilizing advanced geostatistcial techniques to better analyze the distribution of minority populations
within school attendance areas while faculty from the school of education (Pamela Eddy) are
examining ways of utilizing GIS to understand the current status of community college leadership.
Faculty and students from ENSP are looking at utilizing GIS to help monitor disease pathways in
Nicaragua (Dr. David Adai and Ashely Ingram) while an ENSP post-doc is utilizing GIS to examine
local watershed issues (Yuehan Lu). Conservation Biology staff are proposing to use a spatial
database to monitor Osprey sites (Carla Schneider) around the Chesapeake Bay while campus
facilities staff are submitting a proposal to better manage campus drainage and infrastructure using
GIS. A student employed at the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations (Ben
Arancibia) is using GIS to map and analyze the trends present in 30 years of international bilateral
and unilateral aid while the CGA coordinator (Prof. Hamilton) is relating his findings to the changing
landuse within Ecuador’s estuaries.

        This sample of current GIS projects is local and global, inter and intra-disciplinary. They are
examples of how GIS facilitates students and faculty to dig deeper and search for local answers to
global problems. Much of the work conducted by GIS users on campus is targeted at improving our
environment and that of the wider global community. The final sentence of grand challenge one
reads, “We must reach beyond campus to the larger world, using the university’s intellectual
resources to engage public issues and serve local, regional, national, and global
communities.” GIS is a tool that will drive W&M towards meeting this challenge and this funding
request will help us do this in a manner appropriate for a premier liberal arts university.

Draft Grand Challenge 4 - Develop and Implement a Business Plan that Maximizes Revenue
Sources and Ensures Transparent Resource Allocation in Support of College Priorities and

Although the CGA is tasked with facilitating a quality liberal arts education across numerous
disciplines (and not become a vocational GIS “shop” that provides job specific training, a model that
has become so prevalent at larger state schools) the revenue generating potential of GIS should not
be overlooked. With little college support and limited infrastructure the CGA has already received
substantial Mellon funding ($400,000) and is a primary component in the current funding requests
submitted to the Lettie Pate Evans through the Swem Library ($145,000) and Dr. Saporito’s NSF
                                                           Center for Geospatial Analysis, 02/20/2009

social science proposal ($1,000,000). If WM develops the GIS infrastructure to its full potential then
we can leverage our premier faculty and unique focus on undergraduate student research to maintain
and expand our infrastructure in a manner far beyond the actual resources allocated from the
College. As the CGA is independent of any department, program, or school it is in the unique
position of maximizing resource allocation by avoiding duplicate GIS expenditure while expanding
GIS offerings and research opportunities to all parts of campus. As differing departments continue to
adopt GIS; as already happened in Biology, Sociology, Geology and Environmental Science then a
central GIS facility will offer a singular centralized research and teaching center that mitigates many
of the costs of each school and department developing their own GIS programs.

Grand Challenge 5 - Provide Adequate Human and Physical Resources to Sustain a 21st
Century Liberal Arts University.

This white paper is a direct response to Grand Challenge 5. W&M has the faculty expertise, the
student demand, and in many situations a curricula plan to deliver GIS but lacks the physical
resources to operate a 21st Century GIS program. As of summer 2008 faculty and students at WM
had almost no access to GIS infrastructure or expertise. Research conducted by the Swem library
staff indicates that this is an arena in which our entire peer-group of universities outperforms W&M
and I conducted a study of the top public universities at ranked by College News and World Reports
and W&M was the only one of these institutions lacking a GIS program and facility. If the plans
submitted in this white paper come to fruition then W&M will have access to a robust GIS facility on
par with our peer institutions.

GIS employment and Graduate Opportunities.

2010 has bee on of the toughest years for graduating students to find employment in their chosen
field. Recent reports suggest this may continue through 2012. Paradoxically the GIS industry is
under-staffed and requires tens-of-thousands of applicants to fill current job openings. Recent job
posting by the Department of Homeland Security, The US Census, DEP, and numerous private
companies including Google and ESRI have all focused on potential employees with GIS skills.
Within the local area James City County has recently advertised for entry level GIS positions with
exceptional starting salaries. The department of labor reports that geospatial industries are one of
the top ten areas of potential job growth. Graduating seniors with GIS skills with have an advantage
over those without regardless of their academic specialty. It should be noted that those with
integrated GIS skills at the undergraduate level also have a greater chance of being accepted to
graduate schools.


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