University to offer three new GIS courses

The classes aim to provide support for the growing field of spatial research.

by Jessica Hart

In fall 2016, three new geographic information science courses will be added at the University of Minnesota, expanding the school’s spatial information offerings.

The University, which currently has about a dozen GIS classes, is adding three more to meet a growing demand, said Steve Mason, a professor in the Geography, Environment and Society department. The third course will be offered through the Department of Forest Resources.

The courses will focus on advanced instruction in geocomputing, cartography, geovisualization, geodesy and surveying calculations. 

Manson said he hopes the classes help the growing field of spatial research by providing students with foundational research areas. He said that his goal is to maintain the permanency of these classes. 

“In the last couple of years we’ve been called ‘the spatial university,’” Manson said. “You could argue that the University of Minnesota is probably one of the top three universities in the world that does GIS.”

Dr. Eric Shook, who will be teaching the advanced geocomputation course, said he and other professors wanted to introduce new technical subjects that students must know before entering the field.  

“One of those is geocomputation because it’s just a big growing area … in spatial research,” Shook said. “This [advanced geocomputing] course in particular would allow students to have the skills to develop new methods … and take some of the computer science ideas … and take that into spatial research,” Shook said.

His course will focus on computational aspects, including computer programming for geographic information systems and algorithm development. Another topic that will receive attention is parallel programming, Shook said.

Shook said he hopes to access some of the 16 existing supercomputers across the United States for his course.  

“We’re going to try to get the students access to some of those supercomputers to get their hands on them … and take some of the algorithms they’ll develop in GIS methods and run them on the supercomputers,” Shook said.

Shook, along with Dr. Someyah Dodge, will be coming to the University of Minnesota from Kent State University and University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, respectively. Shook and Dodge will teach classes on advanced geocomputing and advanced cartography at the University of Minnesota. 

Manson said both professors have been nationally and internationally recognized for their work.

“They’re fantastic … and we were very lucky to get them to come here,” Manson said.