Friday, December 5, 2014

GIS Day 2014 - Discovering the World through GIS

GIS Day is a grassroots event that celebrates geography, bringing people together to see the usefulness of maps and performing spatial analysis with GIS technology. Initial estimates show that there were nearly 1,000 GIS day events held worldwide. How did you celebrate?

On the UWF campus, the Environmental Studies Department and representatives from UWF’s Geographic Information Science (GIS) programs hosted their 4th annual GIS Day celebration on November 21st. Under the leadership of Dr. Matt Schwartz, Environmental Science Department Chair, the focus turned to making this day an opportunity to highlight the relationship between GIS and content areas in all four colleges via presentations and focused discussions between academic and professional partners.

At least 100 students, staff, faculty, department chairs and college deans attended some portions of the all-day event.

Dr. Matt Schwartz, Environmental Science Department Chair was “very excited by the quality of the material presented, the breadth of GIS applications presented by our guest speakers, and the overall scope of the event.”

The GIS Day team would like to take to give a special thanks to our presenters: Margo Stringfield with the St. Michael’s Cemetery Project; Cathy Mills with the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Phyllis Pooley with the HAAS Center, and Dr. Raid Amin with the Mathematics and Statistics Department at UWF. The slide presentations have been made available for download at

Refreshments were generously provided by two businesses that rely on GIS everyday; Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza (9 Mile Road locations)

As part of the GIS Online Internship course, students were tasked to celebrate the day in their own way. Here are few highlights:


Phil Coppola

For my GIS Day event I shared habitat suitability model for redhead (a species of ducks) in Pensacola-area water bodies.  The model was used to assess an array of survey points that would be used for surveys of these ducks.  In winter 2014, these biologists contacted UWF Biologists to coordinate a wintering waterfowl survey between USFWS and UWF.  I used this opportunity to create my model and share it with them this November as a power point presentation.  They were pleased with model and my enthusiasm for the survey project.  Since presenting this GIS project with them, I have participated in two waterfowl surveys in the area and will work closely with them as they further development of the survey.  It was a great opportunity to demonstrate my GIS abilities and share them with prospective employers in the field I plan to work my career.


Eleanor Foerste

Eleanor contacted the recently reactivated Osceola County GIS User Group to see if they were planning a GIS Day event.  I attended their meeting, shared organizational information I used for GIS Day 2009, and we used the same format for 2014.  We had a "map gallery" style event with a variety of public and private entities exhibiting. My exhibit was about using handheld GPS units for mapping data. I prepared an activity sheet with clues similar to those found on In addition, we had exhibits from the Osceola County GIS Studio, IT, Planning, Community Development, Animal Services, Dewberry, Emergency Management and the Osceola County Sheriff's Office. We made good contacts and showed the visitors how GIS is used to enhance our daily lives.


Leah Smith

For GIS Day I brought some nice cupcakes to work to share with my office.  I set them up under a map of the world I had printed out with a note asking the visitor to put their initials on the most remote or unique place they had been in the world.  I emailed out that it was GIS Day and for them to stop by for a cupcake.  It turned out to be a surprising and informative day as co-workers, some of whom I had known for years, came in and talked about places they had been to and why.  I had no idea one co-worker had done a water study in Mongolia or a couple of our archeologists had worked together previously and were taken off a plane to be questioned in Europe when they made the mistake of saying they had just come from a “camp in the Sudanese” , meaning a dig! They talked about places they had been for military, work, and vacation – not just dots on a map but places that came to life in their stories and even their travel between the dots.   “I got to here by going there and then on to this place,” they said indicating their path on the map. At one point in the day there must have been 6 or 7 people in my office trading stories about the places they had been to.  It wasn’t so much talking about GIS, but I was awed by the power of a map to generate so much discussion and memory. But for the sub-continent of India, parts of Africa and the interior of Russia, almost every continent had been visited by someone.  It turned out to be a very fun GIS day!


Jelly Riedel

On Thursday the 20th, the four teams from NASA's DEVELOP National Program Fall 2014 term participants at Langley Research Center presented their research at the Science Directorate building. I was on the Coastal Mid-Atlantic Water Resources II Team. My team lead and I presented our results and project progress using the METRIC model to estimate evapotransiration in irrigated fields. Our project was a continuation of the summer term's participants. The other teams projects included mapping changes in wetlands in the Great Lakes area, predicting effect of climate change on growing degree days in Washington's apple-growing regions, and using flooding models to assist disaster planning in Colombia.
Each team gave a formal presentation and we had a 2-hour poster session afterward. We had a potluck food table set up as we each brought snacks and desserts to share with the presentation attendees. In attendance was the DEVELOP National Program Manager, Michael Ruiz.


Steven Kieffer

For GIS day, I wanted to do something that was useful to educate and promote GIS to people outside of normal the GIS world— many people do not know what GIS stands for. Moreover, I wanted to introduce GIS into some business sectors that could see the value in the broad uses of GIS. I choose to do a presentation for A Converting, Inc. <> otherwise known as ACI Tapes. Since I know some of the guys that work there, I was able to get an audience with the general manger and the sales staff. ACI is a materials supplier and converter in the manufacturing industry that has an amazing reach into more areas that one would imagine when we think of “tape” and “foam” products. They “specialize in multiple foam tape products, including polyurethane, PVC, EPDM, and Neoprene foams, roll stock and die cuts.” This seems like an industry that would have little effect on each of us until they described to me that all cell phones, computers, lighting fixtures, automobiles, air conditioners, and desk chairs all use these types of products. Automobiles, for example, are loaded with these tapes, foams, and plastic parts. Everything I am using to write this GIS day description uses these products and the product list we all use goes on and on.
So, how can all this be related to GIS? I got the idea for a specific GIS application in their market sector was when I was speaking to one of the sales staff who was marketing down in south Florida. He said his marketing challenge was to locate businesses in industrial park areas to visit and market their products. He told me that the yellow pages and internet searches only go so far and that he actually drives around looking for industrial parks. My first thought was the south Florida population map we created way back in GIS-3015 and then I remembered our land use-land cover we created in GIS-4035. I needed a business hook to get them to hear my presentation (rather than a bunch of board guys tolerating me as I take up their valuable time espousing the wonders of GIS). When I showed the sales staff that a LULC GIS map like this one could localize the industrial zoned areas using a level II and III classification from only a true color aerial image, their eyes lit up thinking of the time savings in driving and cold calling marketing visits. When I pointed out that the map I created yielded nearly a 90% accuracy of ground truthing (using Google street view) from true color aerials, they seemed impressed with that as well.

I was able to explain that most counties and specifically larger metropolitan city areas have GIS land use maps that can be downloaded in .pdf format for free and printed out right from their computer. I explained that smaller counties may require me to help them download the data into ArcMap and create a map for them or create a LULC map like the one above in extreme cases.
Presenting these types of time-saving GIS maps allowed me to get them interested in GIS and show them other wide ranging applications of GIS from maps on my blog and share other map-geek stuff (such as ESRI’s Map Book- Volume 29). They had no idea how many uses GIS has and how many public, government, and business sectors that benefit from GIS. They gave me what I considered a very generous hour or so for people in the middle of their business day.
My measure of GIS day success came when I walked into the senior salesman office, Larry Capan, to say goodbye and thank him for his time. He already had his head down in his computer looking for a county GIS web-site on his next marketing adventure (Fulton County, GA.-- Atlanta area, I think). As I was leaving he said; “how do you spell that, GSI, right.” I was able to correct him by reiterating; “G-I-S stands for Geographical Information Systems.”-- Another GIS convert that knows what it stands for.


Valerie Woelfel

For GIS day I decided to attend the open house at the University of Wisconsin Campus in River Falls. Its been cold up here in the Northland and people are getting stir-crazy being trapped in their houses by the polar vortex. My mom called this morning looking for some excuse to go somewhere so we made it a road trip and stopped at a couple antique stores, a museum, and a cute cafe before hitting the open house. It turned out to be really useful to have someone along who was not a GIS user. It was interesting to hear her input on the maps we saw at the event.
There were about a dozen examples of student maps displayed in the GIS lab for the open house. The first one we looked at was a map with three Land Cover classification images of the area around the campus. When my mom asked about the map I began describing the process to her and was going to point out how the legend shows the different classes, but there was no legend on the map. I told her that wouldn't fly at UWF. Some of the subjects chosen for the maps were interesting, but we both felt that they didn't follow through with much analysis.

Happy Holiday and looking forward to GIS 2015!  If you are interested in GIS or participating in the next GIS day celebration, please contact us at We would love to hear from you!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Remote Sensing and Photo Interpretation Student Spotlight!!

GIS4035 Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing, Dr. Brian Fulfrost

Supervised Image Classification

Lab description -  Students utilized unsupervised classification methods to derive Land Use Land Cover off of a satellite image. This week,the students were assigned to utilize supervised classifications  to derive Land Use Land Cover (LULC) classification off of the spectral information contained in the Digital Numbers (DN) stored in remotely sensed imagery. Supervised classification differs from unsupervised methods in its uses of "training sites" (based on a priori knowledge often from ground observations of the information classes being mapped) to guide the classification of the image from spectral values into information (e.g. LULC) classes. It also differs from unsupervised classification in its use of statistics (as opposed to Euclidean spectral distance) to assign pixel values to information classes.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Create spectral signatures and AOI feature
  • Produce classified images from satellite data
  • Recognize and eliminate spectral confusion between spectral signatures


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Supervised Image Classification Lab assignment:

Gail Sease 

About Gail: Gail lives in Bakersfield, CA has earned BS and MS degrees in geology but has not worked as a geologist for a long time.   Her occupations over the last 20 years have included oil company geologist, junior college geology instructor, Spanish student, teacher of middle school and high school Spanish, biology and geology, school librarian and school secretary.  Before moving to Bakersfield in 2011, she lived with her family in Bogotá, Colombia and Tripoli, Libya for 8 years.  Gail would like to get back into the oil and gas or minerals industries and is seeking to bring her skills up to date.  GIS expertise is extremely valuable in these and many other fields.  Her sister is currently working on her internship at UWF's GIS Master's certification program and her experiences have convinced Gail that it will be an excellent opportunity.

What we like: Gail has been a hard working engaged student all semester and her work on the labs demonstrates her commitment to learning the concepts and techniques of remote sensing. We like that Gail explained the process of identifying training sites, how they relate to the spectral values, and the process for finding the signatures and spectral bands that have the least spectral confusion and therefore the highest potential of separability for each LULC class. Gail also identified one of the more effective band combos and her description of the spectral distance file assisted with the readers interpretation of her results. which she visually presented in her map. Way to go, Gail!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Special Topics in GIS Student Spotlight!!

GIS4930 Special Topics in GIS, Instructor Amber Bloechle

Module 3 - Statistical Analysis of Methamphetamine Laboratory Busts in West Virginia, USA with ArcGIS Analyze Week

Lab description - In this project we performed an Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analysis to try and determine if any socio-economic variables affect the location of meth labs using the OLS tool and ESRI's 6 step method. Deliverables this week included the Methods section of our report as well as the final OLS results table and a map showing StdResidual results from final OLS model.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Review regression analysis basics, ordinary least squares and geographic weighted regression.
  • Define dependent and independent variables for regression analysis.
  • Run ordinary least squares model. 
  • Complete 6 checks for OLS results to determine which variables are significant/non-significant.

The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Statistical Analysis of Methamphetamine Laboratory Busts in West Virginia, USA with ArcGIS Analyze Week assignment:

Brian Roche 

About Brian: Brian hails from St. Louis, Missouri and is currently serving in the US Army.  Already looking ahead to being a civilian again, Brian is taking on the GIS certificate to increase his skillset, and hopefully land a job with the US government!   Outside of GIS, he enjoys a number of hobbies including:  golf, baking, reading history, playing the violin, and travel.  Welcome to the spotlight Brian!

What we like: Brian gave a through, yet summarized report on his analysis methods, incorporating the use of ESRI's 6 step methodology in a concise manner. His map successfully displayed the results of his OLS model and to top things off he clearly went above and beyond to ensure his audiences understanding of the material by including a text box explaining the meaning behind standard residual values.  Fantastic job this week, Brian! Keep up the good work!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Special Topics in Archaeology Student Spotlight!!

GIS4990 Special Topics in GIS Archaeology, Dr. Scott Palumbo

Scythian Burial Mounds: Report and Publication

Lab description - In this module students ran a regression analysis and examined the output statistics. The final output combines landscape archaeology and recent theory with the project results for online publication. Students will also start thinking about their final project and consider new cases to pursue in the near future.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Run a regression analysis on your data
  • Interpret statistical results
  • Express your predictions statistically
  • Publish your data to ArcGIS online
  • Begin designing a landscape archaeology final project

The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Scythian Landscapes Report week lab assignment:

Shana Dooley 

About Name: Shana lives on a small sand spit in the Republic of the Marshall Islands; if you don’t know what that is, just picture sand, sand, and well more sand!  This dot of land is located west of Hawaii in the middle of a vast blue ocean.  Residing on an Army base, she works as an archaeologist for 2 of the islands which are both WWII National Battlefields.  Originally from the desert, Shana has made the best of island life taking up snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and sailing; all of the hobbies helped her expand the size of this dot of land considerably.  Shana is a member of the Archaeology tract and is interested in 3D mapping as she expands the skillset!  Welcome back to the spotlight Shana!

What we like: Shana's analyses represent the culmination of a three week landscape archaeology project. In this module, earthen mounds in central Russia are believed to represent the burial locations of the Scythian culture (roughly 8th century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D.). Students were required to determine if the size or patterning of the mounds was non-random. Over the course of two weeks, Shana noted associations between mound locations are environmental features like elevation, aspect and slope. She then used this information to run an Ordinary Least Squares Regression Model (or OLS) that compared the associations between randomly generated points and site locations to quantify the relationship between the mounds and the environmental factors. She also ran a "hotspot" analysis to identify areas where her model might be overly optimistic. Shana was chosen because she conducted these analyses with distinction and produced a clean and intelligible map layout that conveys this information.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing Student Spotlight!!

GIS4035 Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing, Dr. Brian Fulfrost

Spectral Enhancement and Band Indices

Lab description - For this laboratory exercise, students examined an image of forest surrounding the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. They learned to use the different bands – or layers – of satellite imagery to better study the image. They also learned to calculate an index that will allow them to easily distinguish between vegetation and other features. 

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Explore Image Histograms
  • Operate the Inquire Cursor
  • Interpret histogram data in images
  • Utilize the “Help” menu effectively to locate ERDAS functions
  • Identify features by interpreting digital data


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Spectral Enhancement and Band Indices lab assignment:

Stuart Fricke 

About Stuart: Stuart hails from the Pacific Northwest, currently residing in Pasco, Washington.  After completing a degree in economics in 1984, Stuart went on to finish a second BA in Finance by 1986 from Washington State University.  He decided to pursue the UWF Graduate Certificate program to enhance his technical capabilities and better his current business.  Since 1992, Stuart has been managing White Shield Inc. which specializes in surveying and mapping, environmental services, and quality control.  The business has been in the family since 1978, and they have additional offices in Bellevue, WA, and New Town, ND.  While his business takes up most of his time, Stuart makes plenty of room for his wife and two sons, church, and an occasional fishing or camping trip!  For all the time in between, Stuart can be found with a book or eReader in his hands!  Welcome to the Spotlight Stuart!!

What we like: Stuart's maps looks really good and demonstrated effective band combos. We like how the band combinations really made the feature stand out and how Stuart identified the specific feature on the map and included an inset map. He also included a written description of what was being highlighted on each map.  Way to go Stuart, keep up the excellent work!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Special Topics in GIS Spotlight!!

GIS5935 Special Topics in GIS, Dr. Paul Zandbergen

TINs and DEMs

Lab description - In this lab we examined TIN and DEM elevation models. We compared these two data models for elevation, as well as examined some of their properties. We also practice creating and modifying a TIN.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Create 3D visualizations of elevation models. 
  • Create and modify a TIN using various input datasets 
  • Compare TIN and DEM elevation models in terms of their properties and derivatives


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the TINs and DEMs Lab assignment:

Laura Simpkins 

About Luara: Laura lives in Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia with her husband and 2 kitties. She has an undergraduate degree in environmental science from University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Laura has interned with the park service at Grand Canyon NP and worked for the WV dept. of environmental protection in watershed management. Currently she is an environmental educator at a children's museum. She loves working with kids, but is ready for a new adventure. Laura joined this GIS program to gain some technical skills to help her set out on a new path hopefully in environmental resource management. She is interested in native plants, wetlands, rivers, streams, creeks, cricks, and playing in the woods. Welcome back to the spotlight, Laura!

What we like: Laura provided a solid comparison of elevation models in TIN and DEM formats and created strong visualizations to support her comparisons.  Pairing the visualization with a  great a symbology those sought after ski runs are now easier to see than ever!  Great job Laura, keep up the excellent work!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Internship Student Spotlight!!

GIS4944/5945, GIS Internship, Instructor, Mrs. Leah Lewis, GISP

GIS Internships - Let's get to work!


The following student was chosen to highlight their current GIS internship experience.  

Jelly Riedel 

About Jelly: Jelly is currently enrolled in our graduate level certificate program were she is pursuing her true interests in environmental science.  She recently left the Navy with almost a decade of service and holds a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics.  Her first step after wrapping up her service including following her passion and enrolling in the GIS program here at UWF.  From there, she plans to move on to a master's program in environmental studies.  Outside of school, Jelly is married, with a busy 2.5 year old.  She also has two pet parrots (one true parrot, the other is a cockatiel), who are very demanding creatures. Her spare time involves a lot of reading, hiking, and zumba/dance fitness.

Jelly is currently interning with national DEVELOP program with NASA at Langley Research Center in Virginia.  At NASA, Jelly is working on the Coastal Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Project.  What an amazing opportunity for you!  Way to go and welcome to the spotlight. Working with NASA has the Celsius thermometer off the chart.  Astronaut helmets off to you!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing student spotlight!

GIS4035 Photo Interpretation and Remote Sensing, Dr. Brian Fulfrost

Ground Truthing and Accuracy Assessment

Lab description - Last week, students honed their skills of recognizing features on the ground using a natural color aerial photograph. They digitized an area of Pascagoula, MS, creating a land use/land cover map. Students identified features on the ground based on size, shape, color, pattern, shadows, associations, etc. This week In this lab, students investigated areas of their LULC maps to verify their classification schemes from last week’s lab. This is a way for them to gauge their skills of aerial photo interpretation that they have been learning. 

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Construct an unbiased sampling system
  • Locate and identify features using Google Maps street view
  • Calculate the accuracy of a Land Use / Land Cover classification map


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Ground Truthing and Accuracy Assessment assignment:

Shana Dooley

About Shana: Shana lives on a small sand spit in the Republic of the Marshall Islands; if you don’t know what that is, just picture sand, sand, and well more sand!  This dot of land is located west of Hawaii in the middle of a vast blue ocean.  Residing on an Army base, she works as an archaeologist for 2 of the islands which are both WWII National Battlefields.  Originally from the desert, Shana has made the best of island life taking up snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and sailing; all of the hobbies helped her expand the size of this dot of land considerably.  Shana is a member of the Archaeology tract and is interested in 3D mapping as she expands the skillset!  Welcome to the spotlight Shana!

What we like: We like that Shana updated her original land use map based on feedback from the previous week. She was able to choose an unbiased sampling method and fully grasped the idea of ground truthing her points using Google Maps. Her sampling points gave her a 90% overall accuracy of her map, and in her discussion she was able to justify why she marked a point as correct or incorrect. Way to go, Shana!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Special Topics in Archaeology Student Spotlight!

GIS4990 Special Topics in Archaeology, Dr. Scott Palumbo

Identifying Maya Pyramids

Lab description - The goal of this module was to classify satellite imagery to detect Maya sites with pyramids. Over the past couple of weeks, students did this by creating a number of images to determine what worked best (e.g. False Color, NDVI, etc.).

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Edit a raster image to display select information
  • Export raster data to .kml or .kmz formats
  • View and share this data in Google Earth
  • Compare our Maya perspective to Southeast Asia (undergrads)
  • Begin a comparative analysis in Southeast Asia (grads)


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Identifying Maya Pyramids assignment:

Valerie Woelfel 

About Valerie: Valerie is currently an Archaeological Illustrator and has been for almost 30 years!  While pursuing a BA in studio art, she decided to take a few summer archaeological courses, and thus stumbled across the career path she is still on.  This career has successfully combined her love for art, history, archaeology, and travel.  After working on several digs as an archaeological illustrator, she feels GIS is the next logical step to add to her job skills and expand her employment opportunities!  Like many of us involved with field research she is not in this field for the money, but rather the memories and experiences gained.  Way to kick off our Archaeology spotlights this semester Valerie!

What we like: The neat thing about what Val did was to extend these skills from the Guatemalan rainforest to the jungles of Cambodia. Here she was able to use some of the same techniques to identify likely areas containing stone architecture in a region of extensive canopy. Such classification efforts are particularly important in parts of Cambodia because many relict landmines are left from the Khmer Rouge era and ground truthing is not always practical to do. In addition, his blog is fairly thorough. You can also see some of her Maya results.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Special Topics in GIS Student Spotlight!

GIS4930 Special Topics in GIS, Instructors: Ms. Brittney Markle & Mrs. Amber Bloechle

Network Analyst Analyze Week

This week students created routes, driving directions, and maps—all presented to
specific audiences—for the following scenarios:

Scenario 1- Evacuation of patients from Tampa General Hospital on Davis Islands
Scenario 2- Distribution of emergency supplies by U.S. Army National Guard to three storm shelters
Scenario 4- Presentation of shelter locations to public

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Create transportation routes and define service areas within the dataset utilizing Network Analyst. 
  • Identify evacuation routes and potential road closures (and alternate routes) throughout the city using appropriate data and analysis methods. 
  • Summarize key processes completed for Prepare and Analyze weeks, including any issues encountered along the way. 

The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Network Analyst Analyze Week assignment:

Erin Marie Gazenmuller 

About Name: Erin grew up in Ohio then joined the Air Force where she was first stationed in Omaha, Nebraska and was deployed to Iraq for seven months. She currently lives in the Panhandle of Florida brought here by her husbands' orders, but she still misses the midwest(when there is a bit less snow on the ground).

While in the military, Erin worked in Intelligence. However, military life and Intelligence didn't quite suite her so she decided to pursue other options. For a few months she worked at Fontenelle Forest where she had the wonderful opportunity of teaching children about nature, taking care of the resident rehabilitated wildlife on site, hiking through their trails (even in the snow), and meeting their wonderful staff of passionate naturalists.

Erin's husband then got orders to Hurlburt Field a couple of years ago. They live here with their cat, Charlie, and two dogs, Toto and Zoey. Erin enjoys traveling, learning new things, hanging out with my husband and critters, keeping up on shows like The Walking Dead, and napping. Erin has also recently started particapitating in Geochacing, and find it a fun GIS related hobby.

Erin is currently enrolled in University of West Florida's Undergraduate GIS Certificate program as well as with American Military University, pursuing an Associate Degree in Human Resources. She holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and a certificate in Hazardous Waste Management from AMU. She really likes school. And Starbucks. And memes...

What we like: Erin provided a clean and easy to interpret map showing analysis for all 3 scenarios. Her labels are easy to read and the symbology choices were well thought out. Her choice to include a based polygon layer as well as a water layer so that she was thinking about the whole picture. We also like the organization present along the right side of the page. Again, this presented all of the necessary data in and easy to interpret manner. Job well done, Erin!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Internship Student Spotlight!

GIS4944, GIS Internship, Instructor: Mrs. Leah Lewis, GISP

GIS Internships - Let's get to work!


The following student was chosen to highlight their current GIS internship experience.  

Daniel Lozano

About Daniel:  Daniel is currently in his 3rd semester of the GIS program and is employed at the Bureau of GIS for Union County, New Jersey.  Dan has been with the county since 2010 and is using his current position towards credit for GIS Internship.  Daniel states that this program has been great in that he has found himself applying problem solving techniques and methods from previous courses towards his job.  Did you know that Dan spends time working with the Prosecutor's office to prepare maps for use in investigations and/or trials?  It sounds like our student spotlight has a lot in common with our professional spotlight this week!

Congratulations Dan on being named the first Internship Spotlight Shout-out this semester.  Keep up the good work!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Graduate Special Topics in GIS Student Spotlight!!

GIS5935 Special Topics in GIS (Graduate), Dr. Paul Zandbergen

Calculating Metrics for Spatial Quality

Lab description - Students were tasked with calculating and interpreting various metrics of spatial data quality for a given set of locations.  Students also gained experience in how horizontal accuracy and precision are measured.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Experience the various metrics in calculating and interpreting various metrics of spatial data quality
  • Develop an understanding in how horizontal accuracy and precision are measured.


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Calculating Metrics for Spatial Quality assignment:

Phil Coppola

About Phil: Phil hails from the Northwest, and is originally from Vancouver, WA.  After earning his degree in Biology with a minor in chemistry from Western Washington University he relocated to Gautier, MS.  There he worked as a biology intern for the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.  Phil was responsible for monitoring, capturing, and banding ~100 remaining Mississippi sandhill cranes!  With his research focus in ecology, evolution, and organismal biology, Phil has been paid to chase red-cockaded woodpeckers up trees, and track lizards across the high desert scrub in the Alford Basin, OR!  Besides his studies, Phil enjoys bird watching, gardening with the UWF Botanical Society, hiking, camping, listening to music, and learning new things.  Phil is a graduate student in the Biology Department at the University of West Florida.  Welcome to the spotlight Phil, way to start the semester off right!

What we like:  Phil illustrated great craftsmanship in his final submission, and more importantly he provided a great explanation of the difference between accuracy and precision.  This re-affirmed his handle on the subject, excellent work Phil!!

Stay Tuned for more Spotlights, Internship is coming at you next week!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Archaeology Student Spotlight!

GIS4260 GIS Applications in Archaeology, Dr. Scott Palumbo

Remote Sensing

Aerial photography, satellite imagery and remote sensing data are invaluable tools for the archaeologist.  By utilizing technology to examine large areas of a study area in a short time, the archaeologist can better understand trends, patterns and anomalies, and can identify areas of potential archaeological significance.  Although the sources of remote sensing data and imagery are numerous, for the purposes of this lab we will examine a high resolution orthoimage already geographically corrected for displacement and tilt.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify different types of remote sensing data and differentiate between sensor platforms
  • Identify the utility of different kinds of remote sensing data for archaeological applications
  • Examine and interpret remote sensing imagery for archaeological site detection
  • Generate a land cover raster from an orthorectified image for identifying patterns in the landscape.
  • Successfully complete chi-square tests (grad students)


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Remote Sensing assignment:

Shana Dooley

About Shana: Shana lives on a small sand spit in the Republic of the Marshall Islands; if you don’t know what that is, just picture sand, sand, and well more sand!  This dot of land is located west of Hawaii in the middle of a vast blue ocean.  Residing on an Army base, she works as an archaeologist for 2 of the islands which are both WWII National Battlefields.  Originally from the desert, Shana has made the best of island life taking up snorkeling, SCUBA diving, and sailing; all of the hobbies helped her expand the size of this dot of land considerably.  Shana is a member of the Archaeology tract and is interested in 3D mapping as she expands the skillset!  Welcome to the spotlight Shana!

What we like: The thing we particularly liked about Shana's classification is that she arrived at a puzzling result. Part of Monk's Mound, a large indigenous mound of earth, was classified along with modern buildings. Rather than attribute that result to the quality of the imagery, Shana was one of the few students who did extra research to discover what otherwise might produce this result.She discovered that the installation of drain pipes, and perhaps the presence of shallowly buried pavements, were capable to skewing her classification. This represented a novel approach and a wonderful example for researchers working with imagery to note.

Friday, July 25, 2014

GIS Programming Student Spotlight!

GIS4102 GIS Programming, Dr. Derek Morgan

Working with Geometries

This assignment introduced using Python to work with spatial data in ArcMap. Specifically, students focused on reading and writing geometry objects (aka Vector data).

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Work with geometry objects and multipart features,
  • Read and write geometries
  • Using geometry tokens
  • Accessing feature vertices
  • Understanding different types of cursors


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Working with Geometries assignment:

Jose Falconett 

About Jose: Jose is from Ocala, Florida and works as a mitigation specialist for the Florida Forest Service.  He received his undergraduate degree in Geography and enrolled in the GIS certificate program to expand his technical skillset in GIS.  When not working with GIS, Jose has a passion for cycling and swimming, and what better a place than Florida for those two activities.  Welcome to the spotlight Jose!

What we like:  In the course of teaching a class, one of the most rewarding events that can happen is to see a student who works really hard and grows and improves in the topic of instruction.  In an online-format class, it’s not always easy for a student to demonstrate these qualities in a virtual format.  However, Jose Falconett is one such student who has shown him to be driven and successful in a way that has impressed the instructor and the teaching assistant alike. Mr. Falconett has been attended nearly all of the weekly virtual office hours and asked great question during these meetings.  He has also been regularly active on the discussion forums with his fellow student showing an impressive level of class participation.

On his lab this week, we liked Jose’s attention to detail on his script and his willingness to ask questions in the difficult parts. Jose is one of the most improved students this semester and has been getting better in not only his labs, but also the write-ups that are required for the graduate students.

Mr. Falconett is in his third semester of the graduate GIS Certificate program.  He is professionally employed at the Florida Forest Service.  We hope that his new knowledge of python programming helps him to grow in his geospatial career.  Congratulations Jose!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recap - 2014 Esri UC Adventures

The 2014 Esri International User Conference was held last week in beautiful San Diego, California.  The Online GIS team want to share their personal experiences from the trip.  It's great to see that each person took home something different from the conference.  Overall it is an awesome feeling to have 16,000 of your professional peers and mentors in one place.  There is bound to be a moment when you are so inspired that you literally have to take a moment to collect yourself.  With all that said, enjoy the first hand experiences of the 2014 Esri UC.

Leah Lewis:  The fun began for me on Saturday with the much smaller Education Conference.  For me, that’s my favorite.  The group is small and there are a lot of people doing exactly what I’m doing here at UWF.  It’s a time for me to get inspired, get involved and to be quite honest, impress people with what we are doing at UWF.  I attended a session on how to create a mobile GIS course where instead of textbooks, students were required to purchase an android tablet.  I thought that was a pretty cool idea and something that I plan to look into here on campus.  Also, I went to several sessions on web GIS and how many universities are using the platform instead of static maps.  I know here at UWF this is high on our priority list.  I also attended several round table discussions where instructors and researchers talked about how make their courses better and how they are keeping their online students engaged in the materials.

Ahh Moocs.  Mooc talk was everywhere.  Anthony Robinson of Penn State presented his research after his widely successful Mooc at Penn State.  Esri also has a Mooc opening soon.  Well….did you know UWF is developing a Mooc?  It was great to hear about all of the successes and missteps from others.  I left those sessions even more excited about our Mooc (if that is even possible). 

I know a lot of you are interested in giving back.  You need those contribution points for the GISP application or you want to make sure that today’s youth are fully able to grasp geography and maps.  If that’s the case, then you should check out the ConnectEd Initiative and Esri.  Early this year, Jack Dangermond pledged billions of dollars to schools in the hopes of having a GIS is all schools.  Esri is looking for people like you to serve as GeoMentors to local youth and teachers.  They need our help getting this implemented in schools.  The ConnectEd website is full of resources, maps, and apps needed to get teachers excited.  Just today, I sent an email to a friend at the Escambia County District to arrange a meeting with the superintendent.  I’ll keep you posted on the developments but I have a very good feeling about this.  I can’t wait!!

One last thing and I know a lot of you will be interested in this hot topic.  The GISP.  The elusive GISP.  The exam?  When will it happen?  Well, you heard it here first.  In 2015, the exam will be part of the certification process.  The exam, will not however, replace the current portfolio.  So what does that mean?  The application process is going to get tougher.  If you are close to being ready to submit, I would encourage you to do so before the end of 2014.  If you need help reviewing your materials, I would be more than happy to help. 

So, that’s just a fraction of my week.  It was amazing, awesome, and oh so exhausting, but I would do it over and over again.   The sheer number of GIS people in one place is mind-blowing at times.  I find this to be really funny considering when I first started in GIS, there were only a couple of people in my office who were using the software.  Last week, I was surrounding by 16,000 of the coolest mappers I know.  

Penelope Mitchell:  This was my first time attending ESRI's International User Conference. As the conference rookie, I was in shock and awe nearly the whole time :) The Education Conference kick started the shenanigans. The plenary lectures focused on K-12 challenges and the path and fate of higher education--both topics looking at GIS in a different way. Cindy Marten, Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, was an amazing and inspiring speaker. It was very easy to ascertain this woman was very action oriented. Marten spoke upon the use of geographic data to power and measure change within the community, and emphasized using data as a flashlight to guide us forward, rather than a hammer to punish. Anthony Robinson of Penn State spoke upon the high quality of online education and projected that within the next ten years at least one third of higher education enrollees will be in flexible online education programs.

Sunday evening thousands of people began rolling into downtown San Diego. Monday morning, Jack appeared, and the rock show began. To give you an idea, the User Conference Plenary was held in a giant auditorium with wall to wall screens displaying inventive maps and GIS celebrities. The positive energy in the room was contagious—a GIS nerd heaven. Jack (yes, we’re on first name basis), spoke upon global challenges and emphasized the importance of geography to provide a framework to understand the problems. He said it best, “Geography provides the science, web GIS the technology, and geodesign the process”; then called on us to be the architects of the future! Leaders in the GIS industry were then unveiled—teams of GIS professionals using GIS in innovative ways to solve problems and improve, or better yet, create their surroundings. One of my favorites was the Urban Tree Canopy Map from the City of Minneapolis. Their map allowed leaders to understand and appreciate the economic value of the existing tree canopy and enabled them to focus on canopy expansion down to the parcel level. When storms came through and tree damage occurred, canopy adjustments were made, infrastructure damage recorded, stump removal and sidewalk repair was coordinated, and tree replanting organized all in one fell swoop, saving the City hundreds of hours in autonomous site visits, data entry, and fragmented response. Starbucks also gave an interesting talk, providing a sneak peek into how they use GIS for their very sneaky marketing campaigns—a store in Memphis was highlighted (yes, Brittney had to give a shout out), showing how demographic data including spending ability was partnered with weather data so they knew down to the weekly level just when to lay heavy on their Frappuccino advertisements. They delivered this information to us all while doing some not so subtle product placement of their new juice line, we had to laugh. I highly suggest you check out the 2014 Special Achievement in GIS Award Winners for more motivation.

My last night concluded with the Academic Fair. We met potential students and GIS professionals from around the country and globe. A few government employees from the country of Jordan stopped by our booth and were beyond excited about the Online GIS Training Academy…they were also pretty stoked to take some of our cool blue sunglasses home to their kids. We even had the ESRI celebs rockin blue shades.

And before I shut my trap, in case you have not heard, I want to share one of the coolest things ESRI recently unveiled: GeoNet: a forum to discuss, collaborate, and network with fellow GIS people! Log in, it’s pretty awesome.

Brittney Markle:  July in San Diego is always such an exciting time of the year. Learning the new goings on in the world of ESRI and GIS are just the tip of the iceberg. Visualizing where and how we can apply current and new concepts to our content is where it really interesting. Here’s a list of some of the things I took away this that I hope can be implemented in our program to update materials, provide resources (to student and instructors), exemplify current applications, promote our courses (across campus!), and engage student participation.
·         If the education conference taught me one thing it was the importance of campus & local connections. Campus wide connections (other departments that could use GIS- History, biology, chemistry, public health, political science, etc) as well as other local connections (community colleges, local high schools and middle schools, etc). 

·         Web GIS is the future. That statement might not be 100% accurate but it is getting big and student exposure to this world should increase. There are a multitude of ways to apply web based mapping can be applied to our labs. I can't wait to see how to integrate web mapping fundamentals and tools into lab instructions and assignments.

·         GIS programming is not limited to Python. I made it a point to step out of my comfort zone and learning another programming language, JavaScript API for ArcGIS, and man did it blow my mind! I think I went to about 3 session on JavaScript. My favorite was a hands on lab in the Education Conference called “Intro to programming for non-programmers”. This lab was great and could easily be integrated in the Programming course and an early module. I was introduced to the Developers Sandbox which I had heard of before and honestly it scared the mess out of me. In reality it proved itself to be a very useful resource when using JavaScript. Oh yea-- this type of scripting language is used heavily in web mapping. 

·         10.3 and ArcPro- This was the big deal of the UC. I have pages and pages of notes on both but in the end was still left wondering to what extent ArcPro will be available to us. The beta version is available now with the full version to release sometime in November of this year. There will be ESRI training courses pertaining to ArcPro upon full release. ArcGIS 10.3 is set to be released in September! ArcPro looks like it could be a lot of fun. It’s an application that fuses together ArcMap, Catalog, Globe, and Scene... whoa! Various capabilities include:

o   Faster 2D & 3D rendering
o   Multithread display
o   Ribbon platform
o   Multiple layout display
o   Easy publish and sharing capabilities
o   Tasks in the form of guided workflows
o   Simple search and query
o   3D editing and analysis
o   Temporal analysis
·         Resources:
o   ESRI Higher Ed:
§  Facebook

o   Content:
·         Serious data, content, and student resource right here!

In the last session I went to the speakers were joking around and one of them asked what we thought Arc stood for. The humorous answer was “Always Right Click”. I thought that as pretty funny and very true... and that’s the last tid bit I have to share. I sure does feel good to purge all of that information!

Jeremy Mason: As a newcomer to GIS, I had little idea of what to expect at the UC. But once I arrived, I had an amazing revelation - these are my people! I was amazed by the sheer number of them - 16,000! I thought that I would spend most of my time in presentations to learn the tips and tricks of GIS, but I found that the UWF GIS program had already prepared me well enough that I decided to spend more of my time networking. I met some amazing people in all manifestations of the industry - from environmentalists to emergency response to regional planning, GIS is present everywhere. I also got to hang out with the (super cool) UWF GIS team! In the end, I learned that while the certificate is a good start, there's nothing like a bit of experience to make your resume shine. I got some really great leads for internships, and I'm excited to finally make my transition into the career of my dreams. Thanks UWF!

Congratulations, you made it to the end.  Esri UC 2015 - we hope to see you there!  Check out the 2014 Plenary here -

Monday, July 14, 2014

Graduate Applications in GIS Student Spotlight!

GIS5100 Applications in GIS, Dr. Paul Zandbergen

Spatial Accessibility Modeling

In this lab students examine the use of GIS for modelling spatial access to facilities and services. Students learn the basics of network analysis using the Network Analyst extension by completing a number of tutorial. Next, students work through a simple example of measuring spatial accessibility, employing straight-line distance instead of network travel distance or time. Finally,  students complete a spatial accessibility analysis your network analysis skills. The specific scenario is the closure of one of the branches of a community college to determine how many potential students are affected.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Prepare data for use in network analysis
  • Perform typical network analysis, including service areas and closest facilities
  • Compare different approaches to measuring spatial access, including straight-line distance and network-based travel time
  • Process and summarize demographic data based on metrics for spatial accessibility, including summary tables and cumulative distribution functions
  • Implement a spatial accessibility model using network analysis for a given scenario


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Spatial Accessibility Modeling assignment:

Ellen Markin 

About Ellen: Ellen is currently a GIS Specialist with the Washoe County Assessor's Office in Reno, Nevada. Hired in September of 2013, she has really enjoyed the job so far, and accredits her confidence with GIS going into the interview to the courses taken through the UWF GIS program.  When not at work or working through the labs Ellen enjoys reading Sci-Fi and driving around and camping throughout the West.  Welcome to the spotlight Ellen!

What we like: Ellen completed the analysis with great attention to detail. Sound analysis steps and solid reporting of results in tabular and cartographic format.  Way to go Ellen!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Applications in GIS Student Spotlight!

GIS4048, Applications in GIS, Mrs. Penelope Mitchell

MEDS Project

In the previous week we assembled the Minimum Essential Dataset as defined by DHS for the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area.  This week we identified critical infrastructure, define associated security checkpoints, and set up clear view surveillance points in the vicinity of the Boston Marathon finish line location.  We then compiled our analysis to provide useful maps for security and surveillance teams.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Create new point data
  • Summarize attribute data in a table
  • Generate a near table analysis
  • Explore LiDAR data using the LAS toolbar
  • Convert LAS Dataset to Raster
  • Generate Hillshade surface
  • Perform Viewshed analysis
  • Create a Line of Sight in 2D and 3D
  • Use ArcScene Viewer from the 3D Analyst Toolbar
  • Compile and present results for real world problem solving
  • Provide synopsis of maps, the overall processes of creation, and potential applications.

The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the MEDS Project assignment:

Brandon Griswold 

About Brandon: Brandon has been in the GIS field for almost three years now. Recently, he made the move from the public sector to the private sector. Formerly, he was a GIS Specialist for Bernards Township in New Jersey. He spends most of his time maintaining existing shapefiles for the municipality, performing system administration of GeoClinet, capturing data points in the field, and training other staff in GIS related software and hardware. He recently left this position when a new opportunity came along, and now he words for a GIS software company that specializes in making municipal management software that integrates GIS data directly into it. When asked if he would describe himself as more of a raster or a vector, Brandon said that it would vary by the day. Sometimes he can feel precise and totally accurate in his work, like a vector, and other days he isn't so precise, but accurate enough to make it look pretty, like a raster. Overall, he thinks he is more of a vector though. He feels knowing exactly where you stand on something is better than having a general idea.

What we like: In map 1, Brandon did a great job employing and stylizing with the military template. He also did an excellent job highlighting important information of the map while subtly yet effectively displaying necessary background information.  The inset maps are nicely done; it is obvious where on the map the finish line inset is referencing and the locator inset provides an appropriate geographic reference at county level.

In map 2, he did a great job utilizing the the Line of Sight tool to pinpoint surveillance locations.  The Surveillance points and important associated information such as optimal observation height are displayed clearly on top of the orthoimagery and viewshed layers in one data frame.  The LOS profile references one of the furthest and more obstructed observation points to provide valuable information to the surveillance team.  The locator inset map is very effective at the city level and with the addition of a couple major roads.  The supplemental text throughout the map does a great job guiding the user through the information.

Keep up the superb work, Brandon!

Monday, July 7, 2014

GIS Applications in Archaeology Spotlight!

GIS4260 GIS Applications in Archaeology, Dr. Scott Palumbo

Surface Interpolation

Whether you work with regions, individual sites, or structural remains, archaeologists have traditionally had a need to identify and quantify patterns between samples. Surface interpolation is a common and widespread task that GIS analysts perform and successful archaeological interpretation hinges upon the ability to do this carefully and critically.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Import GPS and AutoCAD coordinate data
  • Generate artifact Kernel Density maps
  • Compare surface interpolation techniques and resulting interpretations
  • Recognize the potential for analyzing archaeological data in Spatial Analyst
  • Statistically express confidence and evaluate differences using a t-test (grad students) 


The following student was chosen for their exceptional work on the Surface Interpolation assignment:

Jeff McNiven 

About Jeff: Jeff is a senior at UWF working on a B.A. in Maritime Studies.  Originally from Dearborn Michigan, he currently lives in Mulberry/Lakeland Florida; located in Central Florida.  Jeff spent 8 years (1988-1996) in the U.S. Navy as an Aerographer, which he defines as a fancy naval term meaning meteorologist.  During that career he enjoyed working exclusively with a computer called T.E.S.S. (tactical environmental support system).  It dealt with loads of maps, graphs and charts, so the GIS program seems like a logical fit for him.  Jeff’s GIS goal is to focus on the archaeology track and combine this knowledge with Maritime Studies.  Welcome to the spotlight Jeff!

What we like: One of the nice things about Jeff’s presentation of his results is that he split Panama and Ecuador into two posters. He also assigned a different color symbology to each of the interpolation techniques. You may notice this choice stayed relatively consistent between the two posters, with Kriging and Spline illustrated with the same color ramp. This choice helps to facilitate reader interpretation. Well done Jeff!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

GIS Programming Spotlight!!

GIS4102 GIS Programming, Dr. Derek Morgan

Python Fundamentals: part II

For the lab assignment, students completed an unfinished Python script, correcting some errors in it, and adding new blocks of code utilizing for and while loops.  The result was a complete Python script, including a comments section containing their name and contact information, the date the script was completed, and a brief description of its purpose. 

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Use and import modules
  • Save Python code as scripts
  • Include comments in scripts
  • Correct script errors
  • Create loops and conditional statements
  • Iterate variables within loops


The following student was chosen for their exception work on the Python Fundamentals: part II assignment:

Jessica Williams 

About Jessica: Jessica is an Engineering Systems Administrator from Newnan, GA and has been working with GIS since 2008.  Jessica is an avid softball player for her local team of co-workers: The Nerdy Birds.  The name was chosen because all members are a little nerdy and, well, birds are pretty.  Softball aside, Jessica decided to take a break for a year to pursue her GIS certification.  Wanting to further her GIS knowledge, she is making sure she knows what she is talking about when she lands that GIS specialist position!  Besides softball and GIS Jessica is an avid runner, and spends the remainder of her free time with the family.  Way to cross the finish line Jessica and come in strong with this week’s spotlight!

What we like: During the Module 4 lab assignment in GIS Programming students were asked to finish writing a script that performs a dice rolling game based on players’ name length, utilizing random numbers, and finally implementing a nested while loop.  For students new to programming implementing their first conditional loop can be a conceptual challenge.  Jessica showed creativity and persistence in completing this part of the lab assignment. When the assignment required the students to create a loop that removes an unlucky number, rather than simply selecting a number, she creatively utilized a previously learned function, random.randint(), to create a different unlucky number each time.

We like that Jessica added to and completed the documentation parts of her script. Finally, we like that she utilized the discussion forums which allowed other students to learn from her question.   Below is her final result, way to go Jessica!