Several Louisiana Tech University students and faculty in the School of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry are attending Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) Geographic Information Systems (GIS)-Pro 2019 Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 in New Orleans.

URISA is a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization that connects people and resources in the GIS community. The annual GIS-Pro conference will educate students in the field of GIS with presentations on various applications and GIS advances and will hold a session on resume’ preparation.

Several junior and senior students of the forestry department set out to find an event to attend which would help them explore more career opportunities and meet prospective employers.

“This is very much a student-driven endeavor,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, assistant professor in Tech’s Agricultural Sciences and Forestry Department. “The students submitted their work, and professionals in the [GIS] field agreed that their topics are worth hearing more about. They also applied for travel grants through the College of Applied and Natural Sciences and have all received funding that should cover the cost of attendance.”

Tech GIS students and professors developed projects to submit as abstracts for presentations for the conference; all projects from the team effort were accepted. Dr. Irene Casas, GIS professor in the College of Liberal Arts, Chris Campbell, UTeachTechMaster Teacher in Tech’s Science and Technology Education Center, and Dr. Eric McConnell and Dr. Jason Holderieath, both assistant professors in the Agricultural Sciences and Forestry Department, were contributors to the student projects and presentations.

“Working with the students in our GIS program is a very rewarding and enriching experience. Students are not only learning from us as educators, but we are also learning from them,” said Casas. “These projects reflect how the students’ skills have evolved learning GIS and what they are capable of beyond the classroom.”

The following is a list of the authors and their presentations, which will be featured in the conference (student co-authors underlined):

  • Assessing Image Resolution Issues in Monitoring Streamside Management Zones for Agriculture and Forestry:Conner Gay, Crosby, Holderieath, and McConnell
  • How Close Was It? Assessing City Tornado Risk in Louisiana: Crosby, Holderieath, Mary Funderburk, Micah Williams, and Conner Gay
  • Using ArcGIS Online to Create Maps of College Campus: Stephanie Plaisance, Bryant Devillier, Crosby, and Casas
  • When They Learn: Student Assessment of Parking Issues on Campus: Mason Richardson, Austin O’Neal, Thomas Bergeron, and Crosby
  • The Urban Scene – Student Exploration of Town Using Survey 123: Crosby, Holderieath, Bryant Devillier, Daniel Townley, and Ben LaBorde
  • Technology and Geographic Literacy in K-12 Education: Dawson Belk, Campbell, and Crosby
  • Introduction of Geo-spatial Technologies/GIS in secondary education: Dawson Belk
  • Integrating GIS Apps and Solutions into Undergraduate Forestry Coursework: McConnell and Crosby

In collaboration with McConnell, Crosby will be giving a giving a talk on cloud-based applications for data collection in forestry.McConnell, along with Holderieath and GIS student Conner Gay, is featured in another project concerning a probabilistic assessment of tornado risk for 398 cities in Louisiana.

The six other presentations will be given by Tech’s GIS students featured in a ‘lightning talk’ session.

This is first time Tech students will attend and participate in the URISA conference. Students in attendance will be in an atmosphere of professionals from all around the country, granting them an opportunity to interact with potential employers and create networking opportunities.

“It speaks to the determination of our students. There was a recognition of an opportunity and they jumped on it,” Crosby said. “I think this strengthens their opportunities for employment and will hopefully continue opening their eyes to the wide world of possibilities that are within the field of GIS. We’re not trying to keep a secret – there are a lot of opportunities in GIS and at Louisiana Tech.”