Western Kentucky University

Geographic Information Science

Picture of ESRI Student Assists from WKU.Floating down Drakes Creek collecting coordinates using GPS.Fly fishing downstream of Wolf Creek Dam in Cumberland River.

Each year, WKU averages 2 students selected for the ESRI Conf. Assistantship in San Diego. 60 are picked out of the U.S.

Students from the GIS and Recreation program help to build the Warren County Blueways mapping website (click picture for site).

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

GIS Instr. Cary and Prof. Yan in Chongqing, China conducting a GIS workshop at Southwest China University.

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

Baker Arboretum GIS mapping website created by an Internet GIS (GEOG 418) student David E. (GIScience '11).

Options available in environmental and recreational GIS.

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, they can be stored in a computer database. Users can then retrieve 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.


Western Kentucky University's GIS facility provides students with the 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.



 Last Modified 7/22/13