EMPORIA STATE UNIVERSITY has a unique campus-wide program in GeoSpatial Analysis (GSA) that involves faculty in earth science, biology, computer science, geography and library science, as well as others. ESU offers a multidisciplinary minor in geospatial analysis, which could be used in combination with any undergraduate B.A. or B.S. major. Advanced courses are offered at the graduate level. Graduate and undergraduate certificates are available also.
ESU has a laboratory dedicated to geospatial analysis. The lab is equiped with state-of-the-art computer workstations, which include fast CPUs, large hard drives, and large and dual monitors. Several computers are for general student use, and some machines are reserved for special research projects by students and faculty. Color printers/plotters, digitizing tables, and scanners are available. The computers are linked to various peripheral devices and to the campus computer center via a high-speed, fiber-optic network. The laboratory is connected to the Internet/Web system for routine student access.
The lab also includes stereoscopes and other optical equipment for analysis of aerial photographs. For field work, global positioning system (GPS) equipment is available for student instruction and research applications. The technique of kite and blimp aerial photography is under development for low-height, large-scale imagery of surficial phenomena--land forms, vegetation, water bodies, archeology, etc.
J.S. Aber demonstrates a large kite used for aerial photography. For more information, see Great Plains Aerial Photography. Photograph by D. Doemland, courtesy of the the Emporia Gazette.
Idrisi Taiga and the ArcGIS suite are the primary software systems used for geospatial analysis, image processing, and map display. All distance-learning students must have Idrisi software. The GSA Lab has a large collection of conventional maps, air photos, space-shuttle photography, satellite imagery, digital elevation models, digital line graphs (DLG) and other data bases, many of which are available on CD-ROM or via Internet. Much GIS data for Kansas is available from the Kansas Geological Survey--see KansasGIS. These data bases cover Kansas, the United States, and the world. New paper maps and digital databases are acquired continually through the U.S. GovernmentDepository Map Library program.
Geospatial research projects at ESU include a variety of investigations in North America and Europe, specifically in Kansas, North Dakota, Saskatchewan, Poland, Iceland, Estonia, and Slovakia. Ground-based field investigations are combined with geographic data bases, aerial photography, and satellite imagery for applications in archeology, biology, cartography, demography, library and information science, geology, geomorphology, hydrology, resource evaluations, wildlife management, and environmental investigations. ESU was home base for the international work group on Geospatial Analysis of Glaciated Environments--see GAGE.
Autumn color, Estonian bog won first place in the photography category of the AAAS/NSF 2005 Visualization Challenge--see Science. This vertical kite aerial photograph, taken in Sept. 2001, demonstrates remarkable autumn bog colors, in which the complex spatial organization of bog features is portrayed in stunning detail. © J.S. and S.W. Aber (2005).
These projects have been supported by funding from: NASA, North Dakota Geological Survey, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Safari Club, Kansas Geological Survey--see KGS, and several other sources. Financial support is available for qualified undergraduate and graduate students to assist with various research projects.
GEOSPATIAL ANALYSIS is a rapidly emerging, interdisciplinary technology. It combines geography, remote sensing, computers, cartography, and information networks for dealing with practical and scientific problems of the world. Geospatial analysis is now used in many governmental, commercial, educational, scientific, engineering, and military situations:
The U.S. Dept. of Labor recently identified geospatial technology as one of the most important emerging scientific fields for economic development. Rapid growth will generate many new jobs in governmental agencies and private industry, as well as academic institutions. Core specialties include GIS and remote sensing techniques based on underlying geographic concepts. As reported in Nature (22 Jan. 2004).
Entry-level salaries for GIS technicians start around $38,000 and go up to $85,000 for project directors. Average salary for GIS analysts is about $50,000; consultants who work on contract earn upwards of $100,000. According to a recent article in the New York Times (12 Aug. 2007). Geospatial analysis continues to have good career opportunities during the recent economic conditions.