Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Connecting with Morocco: Youssef's Story

     You might think working in the GIS lab is all about advanced technology and maps. But a closer look shows that there is much more to be gained in the lab beyond face value. Youssef Guedira is currently studying at WC as a junior from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco. This Engineering student was quick to jump on an opportunity to work at the lab.
     “WC was the highest ranked institution among the list of partnerships my university has with American institutions. While working on my computer one night, I saw an email form Stew Bruce calling for application to work for the GIS lab. I had a web development internship during the summer of 2011 and my handling of HTML started in 8th grade. I thought that I may be helpful and that it would be an interesting experience. So, I emailed Stew back, and we set a meeting.” 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Student Spotlight: Stephanie Hallinan

     Always check your email, you never know - it may lead to a new job. Sophomore Stephanie Hallinan began her internship with GIS because of an email of opportunities in the lab sent over the summer.
     “I had never heard of GIS before, but after going through the site it seemed like a really interesting and challenging place to work that would offer more than simply manning a desk for several hours. I wanted something that would be new and challenging, but would offer me skills I could use later on, and would hopefully open some doors when looking for employment after college. I realize GIS offers all of this and more.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alumni Spotlight: Samantha Bulkilvish '09

     Sometimes it isn’t so bad to follow the crowd. Many GIS lab interns apply for a position by word of mouth and encouragement of friends. Samantha Bulkilvish ’09 followed her friends right into the lab with an internship that led to her post-graduation employment.

     “A lot of my friends in college were upperclassmen and they had all taken GIS classes and were interning with the GIS lab. I got to see all the cool projects they were working on and they encouraged me to sign up for GIS in the fall semester of my junior year. I continued as an intern throughout junior year, that summer, and my senior year.” said Bulkilvish.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Competitive Edge

       It’s that time of year when college seniors around the country are scrambling to fill out graduate school applications and secure jobs post-graduation this spring. Many are becoming desperate in their search in an economy where few jobs are available for the hundreds of thousands graduating this year. Mariah Perkins ’13 doesn’t have to worry about any of those factors, thanks to her experience with WC GIS.

      An anthropology major from Frederick, Md., Perkins will graduate with diploma and job offer in hand. As a leading intern in the lab since freshman year, she completed a summer internship with technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and returned to campus with assurances that a full-time position would await her following graduation in May. Stew Bruce’s connection to Booz Allen Hamilton principal Susan Kalweit, who serves with him on the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation Academic Advisory Board, helped Perkins land the internship.

Friday, November 9, 2012

GIS Student Spotlight: Jeff Sullivan

     It’s been said that a single class can change your life. Now a junior at WC, Jeff Sullivan now holds an intern position in the GIS lab, a job that would not have been possible without taking the Intro. to GIS.
     “I really enjoyed the skills I learned in this class and when a position became available in the lab, I was able to snag a job with crime mapping,” said Sullivan.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Student Spotlight: Olivia Hughes

     Sophomore Olivia Hughes is a Biology major spending her semester traveling the Chesapeake with the Center for Environment and Society, but has also been known to spend her time in the GIS lab as a 3D modeler.

     Now in her second year as a GIS intern, Hughes has heavily invested in learning the Google SketchUp technology that WC GIS has relied on to create realistic 3D visualizations of the world around us. Recreations have been made of current architecture and those of the past with the much appreciated funding of the Maryland Historical Trust.

     As a member of the Easton 3D project team, Hughes worked collaboratively with other interns and the Town of Easton to create 3D streetscapes of certain areas of town where future development may occur. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Student Spotlight: Stephen McFall

           Most GIS interns didn’t get their start until they began studying at WC, but for freshman Stephen McFall, his experience with GIS technology began many years before. 
     A native of Smethport, PA, McFall has followed Stewart Bruce in his studies of GIS. “I first got involved with GIS in the summer before starting 7th grade. My local 4-H educator had suggested a GIS camp held at Penn State. It was the first time I had ever heard about GIS and I thought it was the most interesting technology ever.” Stewart Bruce was hosting the GIS camp that summer, and the next year he moved to Maryland to teach GIS technology at Washington College.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Alumni Spotlight: Buffy Conrad '08

        It is a goal in life to find something worthy of passing on to your children. WC GIS Lab Alumni realize that the power and potential of geospatial technology is a treasure trove of possibility today, and tomorrow. Buffy Conrad ’08 not only returns to WC to assist in the GIS Summer camp as “Counselor Buffy,” but she brings her daughters and their friends, and is excited to volunteer this summer while her son attends.
     An Archaeology major, Conrad took introductory GIS classes and worked in the GIS Lab for only 6 months. During her time in the Lab she was able to undertake a variety of projects related to archaeology, history preservation and land use. She updated the Kent County Historic property attributes, organized data for the Archaeology Predictive Model, digitized the St. Michaels development project in its early stages, geo-coded crime mapping address data, actively collected data in the field and made many maps. After graduation, Conrad worked on staff in the Lab as a GIS Specialist for 6 months. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Student Spotlight: Susanna Comfort

     Don’t know a thing about Geographic Information Systems? Neither did Susanna Comfort. But she says: “You shouldn’t let that stop you from joining the GIS Lab team at Washington College.” 
     A freshman from Denton, MD she plans to pursue a major in Political Science and Economics. This being her first year with GIS, she was roped in out of curiosity. Only 5 weeks into the academic year, Comfort is amazed at her experiences with the technology.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Student Spotlight: Jessica O'Brien

     Have you ever wanted to learn how to perform 3D sketches, but figured the software would cost too much or the classes would be outrageously expensive? Unfortunately, this is usually the case for most people. Jessica O’Brien has discovered that this is not so at Washington College.
     “The best thing about the software we use is that it’s available for free - anybody who wanted to sit down and learn could. That surprises a lot of people. When you tell someone you are modeling a building virtually in 3D, then placing it into a gaming platform, they automatically think programs which cost big bucks, but that's not the case,” said O’Brien.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Paddling On the Chester: GIS In Our Community

Paddling On the Chester: GIS In Our Community
By Cara Murray

When hearing about Washington College’s GIS Program many people are quick to mention our comprehensive crime data analysis, our innovative 3D renderings, or our educational outreach and professional development program. Let’s be real, we do a lot of cool things at WC GIS but one of the aspects of our office that I find to be my favorite is our community work. While these projects may not have the same magnitude they offer us the chance to not only give back to our community but also meet a ton of great people and learn about what is going on in our area.

I have recently had the opportunity to work with Jack Brosius on an awesome project mapping the course for the Special Olympics Paddling trials. Some of you may recognize Jack as a member of the U.S. Rowing Team in the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics; while he has since retired his love of paddling has only grown along with his busy schedule. He now spends much of his time recruiting and training rowing athletes for the Paralympic games.

While completing the map for the Paddling Event, which happened right next to our very own WC Boathouse in the Chester River last Sunday the 16th, Jack’s enthusiasm for the sport and for his athletes was palpable.  He told me that this sport is one of the fastest growing for para-athletes due to the versatility of the boats themselves; they can accommodate a variety of challenges to give each athlete the tools they need to perform to the best of their abilities.

Working with Jack has been a great experience and the project is still ongoing as we are working to map out the State Games as well! Not only did I get to work on a fun digitizing project mapping out the 500 meter and the 200 meter course I had the chance to learn about an awesome sport and the amazing athletes that participate in it. Who knows, we might see some of these athletes again in Rio!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Student Spotlight: Sam Margolis


     At a liberal arts college, it is encouraged that students think outside the box, take risks, and dive into new areas of interest. It is easy to become involved in clubs and courses that you would not normally consider, in fact, it is the college’s strength. Junior Sam Margolis did just this.
     “Freshman year of college I randomly decided to take the Intro to GIS Course, not entirely sure of what it was about. The first few weeks I honestly considered dropping out, thinking that it was not for me. Luckily I stuck with it and within a semester I had a job in the GIS lab doing crime mapping and analysis.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Technology Scholar and Businessman to Present Insight on Commercial Technology in the Realm of the U.S. Intelligence Community

Dr. Christopher K. Tucker will share his experiences during his tenure as the Chief Strategic Officer of In-Q-Tel in a free public lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at Washington College. The talk will take place at 7 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall on the main campus, 300 Washington Avenue, Chestertown. This talk is sponsored by the GIS Program, the GRW Program, the Center for Environment and Society, and the Business Management Department.

Photo Courtesy of USGIF Website
            He will also be giving presentations on his new MapStory Foundation social venture in the Navigating Maps GRW class at 8:30 a.m. and the Introduction to GIS class at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26.  Guests are welcome to sit in these classes if interested.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Alumni Spotlight: Nichole (Bryant) Gillis '09

     It’s true that success speaks for itself - WC GIS Lab Alumni are making big statements in the world of Geospatial Information Systems as they emerge with skills and experience unparalleled to most. Nichole (Bryant) Gillis, started working in the GIS Lab her junior year at WC. A Business Management major with a concentration in Biology and Chemistry, her knowledge gained in the classroom and the GIS Lab has proved to be most vital in her career.
     Gillis got her start in GIS by working on curriculum development. In time she harbored an interest in many aspects of Geospatial Data Technology. Upon graduation in 2009, she worked for one year as a full time staff member of the GIS Lab before pursuing her Master of Science degree in GIS Management from Salisbury University. Viewed distinctly as someone obviously well – trained in GIS skills, she landed her current position as a Geospatial Intelligence Analyst at Man Tech International in July 2011.
     “I saw a need for higher education in GIS and actually finished my last semester’s final exams the first week of my position at Man Tech.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Student Spotlight: Cara Murray

    At Washington College, students do not have to eagerly await professional job experience, or a chance to travel, until after graduation day. Endless opportunity begins here in our backyard of Chestertown, especially for students who have discovered the art of Geographic Information Systems. Junior, Cara Murray, took a position on the WC GIS Lab team fall semester of her freshman year. A double major in Environmental Studies and Psychology, the skills she is learning as a GIS Intern has already begun to open doors of opportunity for her in her field.
     Cara Murray is just one of many students benefiting and learning through WC GIS. Not only are these students learning, but they are giving back to the community through their work. Serving as an example to other colleges and universities, WC GIS has made great strides in engaging students in effective research projects.

     A project known as the “Queen Anne’s Development Project,” was Murray’s first big project – mapping where hypothetical subdivisions in Queen Anne’s County were created to analyze the effect further development would have on the amount of prime farmland.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

GIS Meets With Maryland State Police

On August 20, 2012, Andrew Wright and Erica McMaster attended the Maryland State Police’s Northern Region Stat meeting (MSP Stat). MSP Stat meetings are held biweekly, and are separated into the following Troops/Regions: Northern, Southern, Central, Western, Eastern, and Washington Metro. The Northern Region consists of the Bel Air, North East, and JFK Barracks. Highlighted during the meeting were successes for each Barrack and crash data quarter comparisons, which mentioned the work Washington College has been doing for MSP.

A success story for the North East Barrack included a sobriety checkpoint location identified as a high crash area by Washington College that resulted in 48 vehicles being stopped and one arrested for a DUI.  Each of the three Barracks pushes the maps created by Washington College showing various traffic accident data out to their Troopers to use in their daily patrols. The maps are used for confirming and reinforcing areas already identified by MSP as high traffic accident areas, but also to identify new areas to target. The Barracks are also using the mapping products to analyze daily trends on specific types of traffic accidents, such as those caused by aggressive driving. 

Picture source: Pikesville Patch

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Elementary STEM Summer Institute: Integrating Geospatial Technology In the Classroom

GIS program staff Kate Hayman, Megan Wise, and Emily Aiken, along with Elementary Education Field Experiences Coordinator Michelle Johnson, attended the Elementary STEM Summer Institute in Cambridge in order to learn more about the STEM Standards of Practice. As part of our Race to the Top program, the GIS Lab has been working with Michelle and the Washington College elementary education team in order to develop curriculum to bring GIS into the classroom right from the start.

So what is STEM, and why is it so important for GIS? It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and STEM education practices aim to integrate these four fields together in the classroom. By using STEM, students learn early on that science and math are not independent sets of facts, but that knowledge from one field can be applied in the other. STEM also integrates problem-based learning, or PBL, which aims to transform the usual teacher-centered curriculum into classes driven by problem-solving and discovery. Students are encouraged to actively engage with the material and apply the scientific method: rather than keeping silent because they fear giving the “wrong answer,” PBL students learn that an incorrect hypothesis just means you revise and try again.

The National Science Foundation estimates that 80% of the jobs created in the next decade will require some form of math and science skills. How can GIS help in preparing our students for the future? Implementing technology effectively is an integral part of STEM, and geospatial technology is a rapidly growing field. We have seen with our own student interns that learning a program like Google Sketchup first gives them greater confidence with more complex 3D applications like 3DSMax and Unity in the future. Likewise, bringing a foundation of geospatial concepts into the classroom early on will give students a head start on a future as GIS professionals. With the help of what we learned at this ESTEM conference, we hope to develop a training program that will give teachers the GIS tools they need to bring geospatial technology into their STEM curriculum. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pluckemin Cantonment Project – Reconstructing History

Pluckemin Cantonment Project – Reconstructing History
By Daniel Ortiz

I am currently working on the Pluckemin Project for the Washington College GIS Lab.  The goal of the Pluckemin Project is to recreate the Pluckemin Cantonment of 1778-1779 into the 3D world since it no longer stands.  The Pluckemin Cantonment was the first American military academy to be constructed and was specifically built for the purpose of training artillery crews.

My objective for the Pluckemin project is to recreate the cannons of the Pluckemin Cantonment as they looked back then.  Since these cannons do not exist today and there is virtually no record of what these cannons looked like in great detail, I have tried to look for cannons that were in America during the time of the Revolution.  And since the only other country at the time in the 13 colonies were the British, I learned that they had a high influence on the construction of American cannons.  Henceforth, I drew my attention to any detailed websites and books that dealt with English cannons and possibly American cannons.  Many websites and books began to appear, but a primary resource that I now use to construct cannons is “A Course of Artillery” of the Royal Military Academy. 

This book contains a whole variety of cannons, howitzers, and mortars.  These include the 6 and 24 pounder cannons, 5in and 8in howitzers, and multiple types of sea mortars.      

Above is a picture of one of the three light 6 pounder cannons that were used at Pluckemin.  The original English cannon that was used for the base of this design had wheels with a circumference that was 4 – 6 inches smaller than these wheels.  This model is made this way for 2 reasons.  The first is because there were no exact measurements for cannons made during the 1700’s in the 13 colonies.  So 2 cannons of the same caliber could be made in the same factory yet with different dimensions.  The second reason for the enlargement of these wheels was that when British cannons were captured, the wheels here replaced with larger ones so that they could be better fitted for the rugged terrain of the Americas. 

This second image is a picture of the different types of projectiles that were used by 6 pounder cannons and the exact distribution of the projectile.  The large brass cylinders in the back of the image are the 8 canister shells the gun crew had at their disposal.  The cannon balls are next to the canister shells, of which there are also 8, and the final projectile type is grapeshot.  There are 2 groups of these; there are the 3oz projectiles and the 6oz projectiles.  The 11 lighter colored ones are the 6oz shot and the 14 darker ones are the 3oz shot. 

You can find my work on the Google Warehouse, and there will hopefully be more to come in the near future. 

Daniel is currently a student at St. Mary's School in Annapolis. He was born and raised in Chestertown, MD and is a Junior Research Associate of the GIS lab.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Geospatial Discoveries Summer Program - A Roadmap To GIS Success

Washington College recently hosted its fifth annual one-week summer program for grades 7 to 12, designed to introduce middle and high school students to the exciting and rapidly expanding field of geospatial technology. During this week long summer experience, attendees are immersed in different areas of GIS, gaining hands-on experience and participating in real research projects alongside our lab staff and interns. This year, in order to provide everyone with a superior experience, the program attendees were divided into three “pods” to work on three different projects, which they were given the opportunity to choose between. 

For the summer program this year, Devin Hayward ‘14 worked with the crime pod. They worked on mapping different types of crimes and teaching the kids how to create their own maps. They used their creativity to choose the style of map they created. It was pretty interesting to see their take on how a map should be designed. The kids also got the chance to go to Prince George’s County to see the police force, including the canine unit and motorcycle unit.

The 3D virtual world pod, along with Olivia Hughes ’15, spent their week recreating the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, a New Jersey historic military site. The campers explored the three dimensional modeling world using programs such as Autodesk 3DS Max and Google Sketchup. When the historic military barracks were modeled in 3D, the campers experimented with animating their models using a gaming interface, Unity. Using Unity, the campers were able to create realistic terrain for the 3D world and walk through the historic site. 

The river exploration pod went out on the research vessel Callinectes with CES Associate Director Doug Levin. In the process, they used several different forms of water testing and exploration technology. The river group used side-scan sonar to map the bottom of the river, as well as a Ponar grab sampler, a piece of equipment used to pull up layers of sediment from the river bottom. They also built their own observation buoys out of PVC pipe, connectors, Frisbees, and plastic cable ties, and attached temperature probes to their buoys to measure differences between air temperature and water temperature. Finally, they built their own Aquabotz, remotely operated vehicles used for underwater exploration.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

GIS Lab Expands Into New Space, Provides Additional Opportunities for Student Workers

Last August, the GIS lab moved from our former space in Goldstein Hall (730 square feet) to an off-campus location nearly three times its size, and we wondered how we would use all the new space. It’s hard to believe it now, but the new office originally had only two student work areas. That thought is a distant memory today. The office now has four student work rooms and houses our plotter and 42” flatbed scanner. It hasn’t even been a year yet, but we’re already finding ourselves in need of new student work stations.

The first part of the office to be converted was the back storage room. Shortly after graduation, work commenced to consolidate storage, prepare and paint the walls, add electrical outlets and network outlets, install a drop ceiling, and lay new carpeting. Just to make things even more interesting and chaotic, we also installed a 12000 BTU air conditioning unit and a backup generator for our server room.

With 22 students working at the lab over the summer, even that wasn’t enough. More recently, we converted what was once our conference room into another student work area. The lab continues to hire more students, but the only space left in our new office is the kitchen! How will we have enough work stations in the fall? Acquire more space, of course!

We’ve just begun expanding into the space next door to our existing office by signing a month to month lease to rent an additional 440 square feet. On July 13th we met some great folks at an undisclosed Maryland State agency about a new $200,000 grant that will require additional space acquisitions. Thanks to that grant (if we really get it), in addition to new space we just signed a lease on, we will need to house two more staff and eight students. We also have plans to create an employee lounge where students (and hey, staff too) can take their lunch breaks. And to be clear, no grant funds can be spent on the employee lounge though. The extra space will also give student employees more flexibility in choosing their work schedules once the academic year begins.

Student opinions of the new space are very positive. For most, the extra room more than makes up for the minor inconvenience of having to leave campus for work. Luis Machado ’13, who worked for the lab when we were still in Goldstein Hall, says, “The new office is a lot bigger. There’s a lot more space to get work done.”

Steve McFall ’16 wasn’t here to see the old office, but he likes the new one. “I’m excited to see how the expansion goes. I think it will give us plenty of room for everyone in the fall,” he says.

Erin Cooper ’14 likes the new office for a different reason. “I like that the new office is so open,” she says. “I think it’s good for everyone to be working together in the same place. It’s really helpful to have a bunch of coworkers around to get advice from if I run into problems with a project.”

We’re all really excited to see what the space will look like in a few months as we continue to grow and we will take pictures of the newest proposed space before we move as the that new space will have to be totally gutted before we move in. According to Stewart Bruce, GIS Program Coordinator, “I didn’t think we would so quickly fill up this space but at the rate we are going who knows what space we will need two years from now?”

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Washington College GIS Program Maps Easton, Maryland, Stormwater System

Washington College GIS Program Maps Easton, Maryland, Stormwater System

From left to right: Luis Machado, Joe Miloshevsky, and Sam Stanton

The GIS program has undertaken a project to map the stormwater system of the town of Easton Maryland. Initially the focus will be on the portions of the system in the Tanyard Branch Watershed. The Easton storm water team consists of Sam Stanton, heading up the project, Joe Miloshevsky, the student leading the field team and Luis Machado. The goal of the project is to map surface features using GPS and inspect and document accessible subsurface features. Data collected in the field will then be used to “connect the dots” to develop a comprehensive digital representation of the stormwater network. Easton, being a large old town, possesses a stormwater system that is made up of a widely varying collection of structures, which presents a unique challenge. The field team has thus far encountered everything from small hand laid brick structures to modern day precast concrete structures large enough to house a compact car. The system is actually a combination of multiple types of stormwater features from several eras and is much more complex than it first appears.

The system contains more than 1,300 manholes and almost 1,200 Inlets which will be mapped and analyzed. A GPS point is being taken for each feature using a Topcon GR-3 receiver and Topcon FC-250 Field Controller. This equipment has the capability to collect points with accuracies greater than 1 cm horizontal and 2 cm vertical. The team also inspects and documents the surface inlets, the pit itself, and any pipes leading to and from the feature. Measurements are taken for inlets and outlets utilizing 17 and 25 foot Crain measuring rods outfitted with a Pipe Mic. These measurements are taken relative to the rim elevation, as determined by the GPS measurement, and will then be used to calculate the invert elevations.

With these instruments and the ArcGIS mapping program, the team expects to construct a map of the storm water system during the course of the summer. CAD files of the stormwater system were provided by the town of Easton, and while not entirely accurate it has thus far served as a valuable reference. With this as a reference, and the team’s combined brain power, the expectation is to map and document the town’s stormwater system and gain a better understanding of how water moves through that system especially in urban areas, which is essential to understanding the Tanyard Branch Watershed.

This project is an excellent example of how the GIS lab is providing our students experiential learning opportunities using real world projects. Training for the field team on the Topcon GR-3 was conducted by Lukas Duruttya from DiCarlo Precision Instrument and this training is being used by the project team to develop in-house training materials for all of our student apprentices. During the summer all twenty students working in the lab will get a chance to spend a day in the field learning how to use this equipment and therefore advance their understanding of precision GPS.

Topcon GR-3 training with Lukas Duruttya

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Chester River Ponar Grabs: Two GIS Interns Playing in the Mud

Chester River Ponar Grabs: Two GIS Interns Playing in the Mud

by Katherine Wares and Cara Murray

This past Thursday, we had the opportunity to assist on a field trip to map out contamination in the Chester River sediments and resident benthic organisms with Washington College Professor Dr. Kehm and CES Fellow Dr. Krahforst. We cruised down the Chester River using a NOAA chart and a hand-held GPS to guide us and record our collection sites which, for today, were in the Langford Creek area. (See circled area on the chart below.)

Before reaching our destination we stopped at an outcrop along the banks of the Chester River to see a fascinating outcrop of what we think is the Columbia aquifer. What was particularly interesting about this site is the groundwater discharge between bottom of this outcrop and a thick clay layer visibly entering the Chester. Afterwards, we reached the Langford Creek area and meandered up its various reaches, taking sediment grabs from as far up the various creeks as our boat would take us. At each stop we recorded the coordinates of the site and time of the grab and any important observations of the area as well as any significant characteristics of the sediment sample. After a successful grab we collected samples of the surface layer of the sediment (< 2 cm) as well as any organisms found in the grab. We encounter a number of schooling fish (either spot or menhaden, we think) in the shallow reaches of the upper creeks and some ctenophores (cone jellyfish) that got trapped in our “sediment grab” (which is called a Ponar Grab) in the lower reaches of Langford Creek.


During our trip we managed to see a lot of the wildlife the Chester River area has to offer including ospreys, a bald eagle, and blue herons. While at times we almost got stuck in the mud due to low tide, and some of us lacked the knack for getting a proper Ponar grab, we finished our journey with thirty-two more sediment samples to the cause and some great stories.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dover Area High School Students Work in the Community

The Dover Area High School Geospatial Technology Program (located in York County, Pennsylvania) is one of the high schools that is using our free curriculum found at to teach their high school students geospatial technology. Chuck Benton is their teacher and also in charge of the program. One thing that is very cool is that these stduents are actively working in the community. Chuck has 6 seniors out on GIS internships and this is what they are doing this semester.

1.Jacob Trimmer is interning at York County Planning Commission in the transportation department. Jacob is working on location of all the bridges in York County. When Jacob is not interning at YCPC he is interning at Dover Area School District Transportation department working on all the new elementary boundary lines. Jacob is working with Will Clark at the YCPC.

2. Travis Browning is interning at York County Planning Commission in the Transportation department. Travis is working on digitizing all new development sidewalks in York County. He is also working with Will Clark from the YCPC. Travis internship is for 15 hrs. a week.

3. Drew Hufnagle is interning at York County Planning Commission with their Chief information systems staff person Wade Gobrecht. Drew is working on a verity of different project that need to be done in timely fashion.

4. Mathew Ferry is interning at York County Control 911. Matt is working on mapping all fire hydrants in York county and also fixing existing fire box maps for the entire county. Matt is working with Kim Holtzapple.

5. Tyler Zerbe is interning at Dover Twp GIS Department. Tyler is working currently working on a Chapter 94 project that entails mapping all sewer lines that have been fixed in the township in the past year. Tyler is working with Nathan Stone.

6. Brandon Smith is interning with DCNR at Gifford Pinchot State Park. Brandon is locating and providing GPS points on all nesting boxes in the park. He is also doing the same thing with all the park benches. Brandon is working with Bob Deffner and George Facer. George is the Park Manager/ Program Specialist - GIS specialist for DCNR. Bob is the Park Manager at Gifford Pinchot state park.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Washington College GIS and the Maryland State Police: Analyzing Traffic Accidents through Collaboration

Washington College GIS has formed a partnership with the Maryland State Police, with the assistance of data provided by the State Highway Administration, to analyze traffic accidents statewide through density mapping. This is performed by collecting all traffic accident data for the entire state of Maryland, and dividing this data into the 22 Maryland State Police Barrack Districts. The study area for each barrack includes crashes on interstates, US highways and state highways, but excludes municipalities, where other police agencies have jurisdiction. Within barrack boundaries the data is again separated by all accidents, impaired accidents, and aggressive driving accidents. For the purposes of data classification an accident is considered impaired if the driver was found to be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two. Accidents with aggressive driving are defined by the cause of the accident which is designated in the police report.

Once the data is divided appropriately maps are created for each barrack which show all accidents, impaired driving accidents, and aggressive driving accidents. These maps are then used to create Hot Spot maps for each of the three categories, which visually demonstrate areas of statistically high crash density. Other maps are created that focus on each hotspot individually in order to show exact locations of crash occurrence. Further analysis is then performed which breaks crashes down by time of day, and by day of the week.

Such an analysis allows the State Police to make best use of their limited resource by deploying them to areas of greatest need, as designated by the hot spots. Further use of the day and time data allows for further manipulation of resource allotment and use, while the classification of crashes into impaired and aggressive enables use of this data by tasks forces, such as the Governor’s Task Force on Drunk Driving to target enforcement and to educate law enforcement on areas of high concentrations of these types of accidents.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Crime Analysis and Mapping - Pivot Irrigation Systems

Recently the Crime Mapping and Analysis Program (CMAP) at Washington College completed an analysis of farm irrigation systems in Maryland. The analysis was performed at the request of the Maryland State Police. You may be wondering what is so valuable on an irrigation system, the answer is metal. Most people have heard in the news of vandals going into abandoned houses and stealing metal pipes, wires and downspouts to sell as scrap metal. Irrigation systems like homes are made of metal and use wire to power their movement around the field. Repairing an irrigation system after a theft can cost as much as $10,000 depending on the size of the system.

The goal of the project was to not only help the Maryland State Police, but all law enforcement in Maryland. The majority of irrigation systems are located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where the land is flat and agriculture is a large industry. With the help of the State Police, CMAP was able to obtain the approximate location of every irrigation system that operated last summer. CMAP then produced a map tailored to each county in the State to help law enforcement understand where at risk systems were in their own jurisdiction. The map was then added to a bulletin that was disseminated to law enforcement.

In addition to the completed analysis, Washington College students are being engaged to enhance the accuracy of the irrigation data. While the location of irrigation systems that operated last summer was extremely valuable it does not include all systems, and the size of the system and the spatial location is often off by as much as a 1/2mile. Students are using high resolution ortho-imagery to add any irrigation system that were missed and attribute all irrigation systems with information about their size. Once this process in complete other students will be able to use actual data on where irrigation thefts have occurred to analyze and determine if there are any factors that may make an irrigation system more prone to theft.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hunter H. Harris appointed as new Research Associate at Washington College GIS Program

I am very excited to announce that Hunter Harris, President of Aloft Aerial Photography, has joined our GIS team at Washington College as a research associate to educate our students on how to work with aerial photography and aerial video. I encourage you to check out his website at Hunter is truly an amazing guy with decades of experience flying airplanes, seaplanes, gliders, jets, helicopters, and blimps. He flew the Pink Floyd Blimp “Division Belle” promoting their 1994 world tour, for example. He is also an excellent photographer and his skills will be a valuable asset to our program while his knowledge and experience will greatly help our students broaden their experiences while at the college.

Hunter has long standing ties to the college. His grandfather and father were both Washington College graduates and his family are 6th generation residents of Kent County, Maryland - newcomers, so to speak, for long term Eastern Shore residents. We have been involved with Hunter for years now and strongly support his concerns over the environmental degradation of the Chesapeake Bay. His exhibit “The Bay From Above” was recently featured at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum showing early aerial images and present day aerial images of various locations around the Chesapeake Bay.

In his new role as a research associate, he will act as a mentor to several students including Michael Baker, Gavin Townsend, and Caitlyn Riehl in the GIS lab. In exchange, our students will help his company enter a new age of digital products, social media, and web marketing. Stay tuned because there is going to be some really revolutionary products coming out of our association with Hunter and the dedicated hard work of our students.

Find out more about Hunter's work in this video:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Open Educational Resources Movement and Geospatial Technology

I recently read an article by David DiBiase in the Fall 2009 online digital copy of Cartographic Perspectives: Journal of the North American Cartographic Information Society, called “Freeing CP: GIS&T and NACIS in the Open Educational Resources Movement.” Check out this website and scroll down the page to read the article yourself:

This really got me wondering what we are doing with our online geospatial curriculum on our site. For many years now I have offered this curriculum free to any K-12 school that wants it since we developed these materials with local, state, and federal grant money - but I want to take it a little bit further now.

As we update our materials to ArcGIS 10, I have started posting my new lectures to YouTube under our GIS3wcGetIt account and will also be posting them to Teacher Tube and Itunes University as some schools block access to YouTube. You can view our growing YouTube collection for our GT-101 course by going to this LINK. We will allow immediate guest access to our older six courses on ArcGIS 9.3 and as we update and improve our materials for ArcGIS 10, we will also permit guest access to these courses as well. All of our materials are posted using the Creative Commons Attribution license and use is restricted to non-commercial use.

Over the next few months we will be creating a share site where you will be able to download all of the materials we used to make these courses. We encourage people to use these, and if you think you can improve our materials, we welcome the help and hope you send the improvements back to us. We will put credits on the materials whenever someone helps us in this way. By giving the original source materials out this will be easy to do.

Now you may wonder how we will sustain this or make any money if we give all of our materials away. Well we do have existing training contracts to supply training to a number of groups at costs that are way below market value for professional development GIS courses. These students will be able to upload assignments for comment and helpful suggestions from our qualified staff who use GIS every day in their work. Our paying students will also be able to consult us for help with the lessons and any other GIS question they have via email, phone, and interactive web meetings using software such as Adobe Connect. And when they finish the course, they will receive formal documentation of their accomplishments that they can use to further their careers and for certification purposes where continuing education must be documented. I think we will make out just fine and feel good about it too.

If you agree, liking us on our Facebook account would be helpful.

Written by Stewart Bruce, GIS Program Coordinator at Washington College

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mapping the Past: The Surveys of George Washington - A Lecture Presented by Washington College

On February 22nd, 2012 Washington College will be playing host to an exciting event for the celebration of its namesake’s birthday. At 5:00 PM in the Gibson Center for the Arts’ Decker Theatre, Mr. Edward Redmond, Senior Reference Specialist and Curator in the Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division, will be giving his lecture on the maps of George Washington. Mr. Redmond is not only an internationally recognized authority on George Washington’s maps but prior to his work with the Library of Congress he taught Early American History at West Chester University and is now working on an atlas of George Washington’s maps. With such a noteworthy authority, this lecture is sure to be nothing but eye opening and informative. Mapping the Past: The Surveys of George Washington is hosted by the Center of Environment and Society of Washington College, the Geographic Information Systems Laboratory, and the GRW Program. A number of paintings of George Washington as a surveyor can be found here.

In conjunction with Mr. Redmond’s lecture, an exhibit of approximately ten of George Washington’s maps will be on display in the William Frank Visual Arts Hallway of the Gibson Center for the Arts. This exhibit will available for viewing from February 18th- 26th, 2012. The maps that will be displayed range in years from 1748 to 1793 and are all maps that Washington himself drew, from one of his first maps, or Lawrence Washington’s turnip garden at Mount Vernon, to land surveys and a few maps depicting his estate at Mount Vernon. Accompanying each of the maps will be a short description of the map as well as a locator map to give the viewer a better understanding of the location of the area.

Can’t make the lecture? Don’t fret! In making the effort to make this wonderful lecture available to a broad audience, the entire lecture will be streamed live online through a webcast at, which is provided by the Office of Information Technologies at Washington College. The program will begin at approximately 4:50 PM on February 22nd, 2012. By making this lecture available to the public and online, we hope that Mr. Redmond’s lecture will be an enjoyable experience for all.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Washington College GIS Program Provides Mapping and Data Services to Maryland Health Resource Centers

In partnership with the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, the GIS program has been working for the past year and a half to provide in-depth mapping services and data analysis to federally qualified health centers and other health care providers in the state of Maryland. Many of these health care providers focus on low-income, uninsured, and other high-risk populations. By combining demographic analysis, patient data, and spatial analysis, GIS can help community health resources target the people most in need of their services more effectively.

The maps are custom-produced to best fit the needs of each respective organization. Some products are used for reference purposes and are as simple as a map of the current and proposed health center locations. Others are much more complex; for instance, overlaying regional poverty and infant mortality data to pinpoint areas of highest concern. With organizations that have signed an a formal agreement with us, we also perform detailed patient distribution mapping which helps health centers determine exactly where their patients are coming from and what health indicators they exhibit. However, in this situation, we must take data security very seriously because of HIPAA requirements; thus, maps utilizing patient data are not available for public view.

Most recently, the GIS lab is working with the Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC) on a major overhaul of their website. In addition to updating the layout that will enable the CHRC to coordinate with other Maryland government sites, the latest site will also boast new content and features. Visitors will be able to pull up information on the CHRC’s special projects and targeted goals, browse an interactive map of the 78 health grantees, and search for nearby health centers by address using a custom Microsoft Silverlight application. This project is nearing completion, so look for the new and improved site to debut soon!

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