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Western Kentucky University

Geographic Information Science

Picture of 2015 KAMP Scholarship WinnerAustin W. (GIScience '15) TIN Model of Civil War Fortifications, Bowling Green, Ky.WKU Ky. Mesonet GIS Map Viewer Application (Desktop or Mobile).  Click picture to launch.

Ryan U. (GIScience '16) KAMP Scholarship Winner at 2015 Kentucky GIS Conference. Click picture for information.

(From left) KAMP President Lance Morris, Ryan and WKU GIS Director Kevin B. Cary. Photo by Christy Powell.

Austin W. (GIScience '15, Papa John's GIS & Mapping) TIN Model of Civil War Fortifications, Bowling Green, Ky.

GIS Analysis and Modeling (GEOG 417) students out in the field collecting coordinates with mapping grade GPS.

Keith K. (GIS Minor '16) at Ky. GIS Conference 2015 in Owensboro. Photo by Christy Powell.

3D modeling of WKU's main campus by GEOG 417 student Jill F (GIS Certificate '11, Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources).

WKU Ky. Mesonet GIS Map Viewer Application (Desktop or Mobile). Click picture to launch.

2015 ESRI GIS Conference in San Diego, Calif. Click picture for information.

(From left), GIS faculty Kevin B. Cary, Josh M. (Geography '13 and WKU PDC), Scott Q. (GIScience '15, Crowe-Wheeler & Assoc.), Taylor B. (GIScience '15, Warren Water), Ellen B. (Geoscience '15), Dan T. (Geography '02, Geoscience '04, USACE)

GEOG 417 students (Fall 2015).

What is GIS?

A Geographic Information System or just simply GIS, combines very sophisticated computer technology and trained people to develop digital models of the world around us. These models of the world can help us to understand and plan for the future of communities and regions more effectively. A GIS includes capabilities for digital data creation, the storage and retrieval of digital data, the manipulation and analysis of those data, and the presentation of data using maps, graphs, tables, and other displays.

Digital data creation involves ways of taking the world that we see around us and representing it in a machine-readable form. Global positioning systems (GPS) technology provides a high-tech way of collecting geographic data. A hand-held GPS unit in the field receives signals from satellites to determine the latitude, the longitude, and the elevation to within less than one meter of a person's location on the surface of the Earth. This technology can be used to build GIS databases for mapping features such as roads, property lines, buildings, wetlands, trees, manhole covers, and a variety of other features.

Once data are collected, it is stored in a computer database. Users can then retrieve selective geospatial information from the database by making queries. A water department, for example, interested in preventative maintenance might ask the GIS to identify locations of PVC water pipes that are six inches in diameter and were last maintained prior to 1995. The capability to query the GIS database and display the results on a map is a rather simple, yet powerful tool.


WKU has five certified GIS professionals (GISP) that make up their GIS faculty (click here for more information on WKU GISP Faculty).  GISPs meet the requirements for today's GIS industry standards in education, contribution, profession, and ethics.  WKU's GIS facility provides students with training to become productive users of GIS technology and it positions WKU to play a constructive role in helping local and regional organizations to plan for a postive future. 



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 Last Modified 10/29/15