Plenary Lecture

Establishing an Academic Minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Professor Rich Snow
Applied Aviation Sciences
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Abstract: There are few aviation and aerospace endeavors that do not involve a spatial component, from the planning of an airport and the management of daily operations to routing a flight based on air traffic, topography, and weather. As an effective instrument for visualizing tabular data, recognizing emergent patterns, and effectively depicting results, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enhances pedagogy by adding a hands-on component to the process and provides an invaluable contribution to collaborative research among faculty and students of varying aviation and aerospace disciplines. Understanding the need to prepare students for the opportunities GIS offers, the Department of Applied Aviation Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University licensed a popular off-the-shelf GIS software for one of its new 30-seat computer classrooms back in 2002. Equipped with the appropriate technological tools an experimental course, Introduction to Global Information Systems, was developed for aviation and aerospace students. Since its inception, the class has been offered each year and upgraded from experimental to permanent status. A year later a second course, Advanced Geographic Information Systems, was added to the Embry-Riddle curriculum and GIS software is now installed in every PC laboratory on the Daytona Beach campus. However, it took more than a decade for administrators to realize exactly what GIS is and often confused it with GPS. Over the years, faculty and students became increasingly enlightened regarding the power of GIS. Finally, a minor in GIS was established in 2018 and the first graduates with the minor received their degrees in May 2018. This presentation examines the painstaking but positive progression of this GIS success story and offers clues for implementing similar programs at other universities.

Brief Biography of the Speaker: Dr. Richard Snow earned his B.S. in Geography (summa cum laude) and his M.S. in Geoscience from Western Kentucky University prior to taking his Ph.D. in Physical Geography from Indiana State University in 1999. Rich is a Professor of Meteorology and teaches courses in Meteorology, Climatology, and GIS in the Department of Applied Aviation Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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