Thursday, 20 December 2007

GIS Day @ KU

The ASPRS Student Chapter at the University of Kansas, the Mount Oread Geospatial Technologies Club, focuses nearly all of its efforts on our annual GIS Day @ KU celebration. This year marked our seventh annual GIS Day @ KU and each year the event has been better organized, better attended, and more useful to undergraduate and graduate students. The GIS Day Planning Committee is chaired by a graduate student and composed of several undergraduate and graduate volunteers as well as several professors who serve as advisers. Several dedicated university employees also contribute to the committee. We collected funds from various departments and programs across campus who utilize GIS in their research or classrooms. This year, donating departments consisted of the Department of Geography, the Kansas Biological Survey, the Data Access and Support Center (DASC) of the Kansas Geospatial Community Commons, the Institute for Policy and Social Research, the KU Libraries, the KU Transportation Institute, the KU Biodiversity Institute, and the Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS). The Coca Cola company, via a contractual relationship with the university, also donated money and beverages. Most of these are repeat donors who support GIS Day @ KU every year. We also benefit from a close association with the Kansas GIS Policy Board, which allows us, among other things, to send emails to many state and local GIS agencies and government groups.

In the early stages of planning, we select a theme for our GIS Day. This year we focused on open-source and web-based GIS applications. We select guest speakers based on their expertise and knowledge of the theme. We also sponsor a student GIS presentation competition where students from KU and other schools (this year we had students from Haskell Indian Nations University and Baker University) are able to present their research. About half of participants come from outside of geography departments. Prizes this year were $250, $150 and $100 for first, second and third places.

GIS Day @ KU is a big deal. This year, we had 196 people pre-register. Due to the hard work and programming expertise of Xan Wedel, of the Institute for Policy and Social Research at KU, registrants entered their information on our event website and their location appeared on a mashup of Google Maps. Attendees were plotted based on whether they were from academia, private business, government, non-profit or if they were a guest speaker. You can see the map here. A Google Maps mashup was also used to direct attendees from the parking lot to the event, as seen here.

When attendees arrived, they were greeted by a group of student volunteers who issued them a preprinted name tag and provided them with an agenda of the day's events. They were then directed to a parlor, which contained the Information and Job Fair as well as coffee, juice, bagels and pastries. This is the first year that we have organized an Information and Job Fair. Not only did the Fair allow students to meet with local and national GIS related businesses and share their resumes, it also helped us cover the costs of GIS Day @ KU since participating agencies were charged a nominal fee. Participating agencies included:

Western Air Maps
Spatial Data Research
Bartlett & West
Garmin International Inc.
MJ Hardin
Kansas Biological Survey
Haskell Indian Nations University

At 9:00 a.m. Joshua Campbell, geography graduate student and this year's planning committee chair, started GIS Day @ KU with some opening remarks. After his brief introduction participants listened to talks from Goeff Zeiss, Director of Technology at Autodesk; Brian Timoney, Founder of the Timoney Group; Andrew Turner, Founder of Mapufacture and author of 'Introduction to Neogeography'; and Jeremy Bartley, ArcGIS Server Developer Team, ESRI. The presentations of all of these speakers are available on our website. The planning committee has worked with various departments and programs on campus throughout the history of GIS Day @ KU and through their generous support, we were able to cover the airfares, hotel expenses, and food costs of all of our guest speakers.

Following these speakers, we broke for lunch. Then, from 1:00 - 2:30 p.m., attendees watched the Student Research Presentation Competition. This consisted of 8 student presentations about their own research. Presentations were limited to 8 minutes with a 2 minute question and answer period. A list of this years' winners, and all of the student presentations, are available on our competition website found at the link above.

After the student competition, we listened to presentations by Aimee Stewart, Systems Programmer at the KU Biodiversity Institute; Professor Nathaniel Brunsell, professor in Atmospheric Studies and Geography at KU; and Jude Kastens, Research Assistant at the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) program. Their presentations are also available on the GIS Day @ KU website. The formal event ended around 5:00 p.m. but the celebration continued at Free State Brewing Company.

GIS Day @ KU has been a great way to unite the local GIS community and increase awareness of GIS in university departments other than geography. It has also served to mentor undergraduate students by developing working relationships between them and graduate students. This relationship helps to ensure continuity of GIS Day @ KU planning into the future. Our event started small, but has had continued support and has grown to a nearly $5,000 event with over 200 participants. One great benefit to this years' event was listening to speakers talk about the future of GIS web-based applications. Many of these speakers made suggestions to faculty regarding changes to class offerings that would better prepare students for the workplace. If anyone has any questions regarding GIS Day @ KU, please feel free to contact Jonathan Thayn.

During Geography Week, the KU GeoClub sponsors a Globe-O-Mania Trivia Bowl, which is also a great idea for an ASPRS student chapter interested in increasing geography awareness at their university.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

2007 Fall Specialty Conference Student Assistants

ASPRS and the Student Advisory Council would like to congratulate the following 2007 ASPRS/CRSS Fall Specialty Conference Student Assistants:

Colleen Boodleman (University of Arizona)
Chad Cunningham (Michigan State University)
Allison Ginn (University of Georgia)
Kristen Grady (Hunter College, City Univ. of NY)
Aileen Guzman (SUNY – Syracuse)
Frédéric Happi Mangoua (University of Sherbrooke)
Akira Kato (University of Washington)
Jonghoon Lee (SUNY - Buffalo)
Jason Raines (Stephen F. Austin State University)
Perminder Singh Malik (Bharti Vidaypeeth Deemed University)
Drake Sprague (Florida Atlantic University)

We look forward to seeing you all in Ottawa!

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

2007 Student Assistantship Program

Attention all student members of ASPRS!

2007 Student Assistantship Program

If you are a student at an accredited college or university,
ASPRS and CRSS invite you to attend and assist with the Fall Specialty Conference
October 28-November 01, 2007, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Application deadline: September 1, 2007.
Student Assistants will be notified by September 20, 2007.

· Complementary student registration, includes conference proceedings CD
· Lodging accommodations
· A small meal stipend (7.5 hr shifts only)
· A certificate for your portfolio
· Acknowledgement in PE&RS
· Opportunity to network with other ASPRS/CRSS members
· Chance to learn more about the geospatial field
· Meet some of the top names in the industry
· Explore job opportunities

Student Assistants are required to:
· Attend the SA orientation on Sunday, October 28, 2007
· Assist at the conference for 15 hours during the week
· Be available for the duration of the conference – October 28 through November 01, 2007
· Arrange their own transportation and necessary documents for travel to and from Ottawa

How to become a Student Assistant
- Submit a cover letter describing
Your interest in ASPRS and/or CRSS
If you are a member of ASPRS and/or CRSS
Your academic and professional experience in the geospatial field
What you hope to gain from this experience

- Include a resume with your mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address where you can be contacted through December 2007.

- Send your application package via e-mail to the SA Program Coordinator (include ASPRS SA Program in the Subject Line of all e-mail messages).

ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by AIR between the United States and Canada, are required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document.

SA Program Coordinator
Sandra Hunkele
ASPRS Student Advisory Council Chair
Phone: (386) 882-2172

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Signatures - ASPRS' New Student Blog

At the ASPRS Annual Conference in Tampa Florida, the Student Advisory Council (SAC) discussed a new format for the student newsletter. During their discussion, they proposed an online format rather than a PDF or print format in order to take advantage of the adaptability of the electronic media which includes RSS subscriptions and links to other sites that hold additional information.

With this information, we decided to change the ASPRS Student Newsletter from a PDF format to a blog. With the creation of this blog, we will be able to post content on a consistent basis rather than the quarterly schedule of the PDF version.

Check it out for yourself and do not hesitate to leave comments and ideas for us to use in the future.

ASPRS Student Profile - Jonathan Thayn

I grew up in a small coal-mining community in southeastern Utah, half way between the San Rafael Desert and the Bookcliff Mountains. We lived outside of town, on my grandpa’s farm, so until I received my driver’s license, our access to movies and malls was limited. My brothers and sisters and I spent a lot of time outside, hiking through the sagebrush and Juniper trees near our home. My dad and my brothers and I were involved in boy scouting so we did a lot of camping together. I really enjoyed being outside, especially in the mountains, where it was oddly calming and exciting at the same time. When I wasn’t outside, I was usually drawing or painting. It was a happy day when I realized I could combine my interests in art and the outdoors by making remotely sensed images to model and map vegetation.

After high school, I attended the College of Eastern Utah in my hometown for four years. For two of those years I lived in western Guatemala as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I received my bachelor degree in GIS from Brigham Young University and my master’s degree in Public Administration from the same university. My wife and I then moved to Lake Forest, a few miles north of Chicago. After working there for two years, we moved to Lawrence, Kansas so I could pursue a doctoral degree in geography and remote sensing. My goal is to work as a professor and scientist at a research university.

I am particularly interested in studying vegetation and ecosystem response to perturbation and possible climate change. My research so far has focused on analyzing time-series of satellite image vegetation indices to extract phenology metrics, or information regarding the seasonal timing of vegetation growth cycles. I have used aspects of this methodology to map red cedar invasion in the Great Plains and to model the effects of rangeland fragmentation on cattle stocking rates in Kansas. My dissertation research looks to map prehistoric anthropogenic soils in the Amazon Basin using vegetation response to drought conditions as a surrogate for soil type. The most exciting aspect of this work is that the result will be a map of pre-Columbian settlement sites that have been abandoned and reabsorbed by the forest.

After work, I go home to my family. My wife, Debbi, is busy taking care of our two daughters and our Beagle puppy. Currently, this involves swimming lessons and coordinating various play-groups. Mary (4-years) likes dancing, chocolate, going on expeditions, and the color pink. Lucy (2-years) likes the Bernstain Bears, juice, reading stories, and doing whatever Mary is doing.

My goals as Communications Councilor for the ASPRS Student Advisory Council (SAC) are to make the communication between members as useful as possible. First off, I would like to give the newsletter, Signatures, a blog-like online format so that we can subscribe to it using RSS. That way each member can find the articles, suggestions, information, etc. in the newsletter without having to wade through the stuff that isn’t as interesting to them. Also, comments, suggestions and questions can be posted to the articles so that readers can communicate with the authors. I think this has a lot of potential for articles that highlight chapter success stories. Leaders from other chapters would be able to easily ask questions and the authors would be able to respond. During the SAC meeting at the ASPRS conference in Tampa, we brainstormed possible features or sections for the newsletter (the minutes from that meeting are on the Yahoo! Users Group ( I am especially excited about the grant and scholarship notice board and the collaborative research suggestions. I am looking into ways to implement those as soon as possible. If you have any additional suggestions or ideas, please let me know.

Jonathan B. Thayn
Communications Councilor, SAC
Doctoral Candidate

Department of Geography
University of Kansas, Higuchi Hall
2101 West Constant Avenue, Rm 121
Lawrence, KS 66047

(785) 864-1518

ASPRS Students - Member Recruiting and Retention

Michelle Kinzel, ASPRS student member and Chapter President the Oregon State University Student Chapter, highlights the benefits of joining a student chapter within the organization. As the OSU chapter president, Michelle’s continues to promote student growth within her chapter and encourages all students to create their own chapter.

Michelle Kinzel and an enormous whale

The Oregon State University Student Chapter of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing has been successful at building a strong student membership during the 2006-2007 academic year. I have worked with the faculty advisor Dr. Michael Wing to schedule meetings and recruitment events in the Geosciences and Forestry Departments. The key factors in recruiting nearly 25 new members since last fall have been spreading the word wide and far, engaging officers in key projects and activities, and providing interesting and stimulating meeting events. Initially, the interest was sparked by advertising the special student membership rate being sponsored by the ASPRS association. Many students were keenly interested in participating in a professional society for only $10, a reasonable chunk out of even a student’s tight budget (The initial cost for student membership is $45, but most Chapters will pay a portion of the dues to promote student growth). Announcements were made via email and in courses related to Cartography, Remote Sensing and GIS around campus. Interest quickly grew and students joined the chapter at hosted luncheons and chapter meetings.

The main factors in continuing the success of the chapter have been the participation of the members and the chapter officers, hosting of social events, and creation of a listserv and website that serve as communication hubs. Our chapter treasurer, Julien Deveraux has begun a project to use GPS technology to map out the distribution of all the tree species on the OSU Campus. Richard Hughes is teaming up with chapter Vice President Sam Thomas to create a Bike Map of Corvallis for 2-wheel commuters and weekend warriors. One of the Spring Meetings will actually be at a secret location, and members will have to use GPS units and aerial photos of campus to decode clues and geo-cache their way to the location, where the fastest teams will be rewarded with prizes and all participants will enjoy a catered lunch. Rob Denner has created a chapter website, and has begun inviting speakers to attend the meetings to give presentations on the latest and greatest applications in Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry. We are also working on creating chapter t-shirts, a great way to encourage pride in the organization.

You can check out all the chapter details and upcoming events at

For anyone interested in starting a new chapter or building interest in an existing chapter, we recommend the following tips for finding and keeping members:

1. Announce the student membership offer via email, flyers posted around buildings and in classes. Use listservs, professors and students themselves to get the word out among related disciplines such as Geosciences, Oceanography, Forestry.

2. Have the forms for joining on hand to distribute with the announcement, both electronically and at face-to-face announcements.

3. Host meeting times and offer free lunch (always a big hit) and engaging activities.

4. Make if fun and social! Our meetings are scheduled around speakers, BBQ socials and chapter outings.

5. Appoint officers and encourage members to organize and lead a project.

6. Emphasize the benefits of membership in a professional organization. ASPRS has scholarship opportunities,, travel grant assistance and special rates on merchandise and books in the ASPRS store.

7. Coordinate Internship opportunities in conjunction with student membership. Most departments offer credit for real world applications of course materials, and many professors would gladly supervise student projects that would generate chapter interest as students work on their degree requirements.

8. Being in a chapter and especially being a chapter officer always looks great on a resume! Valuable experience can be gained while having fun and interacting with students that have the same interest.

OSU Student Chapter 2007
Faculty Advisor: Dr Michael Wing
President: Michelle Kinzel
Vice-President: Sam Thomas
Treasurer: Julien Deveraux
Web Czar: Rob Denner

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Photogrammetry Shaped my Future - Perminder Singh Malik

Recently, Perminder Singh Malik, an ASPRS student member (pictured on the right), shared his insight on having a career in photogrammetry and how it has shaped his future. Check it out:

I was just a CAD operator, a guy with a Civil Engineering background, when I started my career in the field of Photogrammetry in 1998. I was just learning about the concept of Photogrammetry due to my engineering background because, at the time, it was not a common field in India. Fortunately, I began training in this field with such good analogue machines as A8 and Amh1 on which you clearly understand the concept of parallax and parameters like kappa, phi, and omega. Now, I have found that it is a world of digital mapping and to grow one must stay abreast of the latest technologies.

I give credit to my company, Kampsax India Pvt. Ltd. (a division of COWI A/S, Denmark, which is a quite well known name in this field), as it changed my base from CAD to geospatial science. I joined this company in 1998 when it started its Photogrammetric unit in India. It has been a long run of more than nine years from a CAD Operator to a Technical Expert position, but I am quite satisfied with my career. Currently, I focus on Quality Assurance and Project leading with digital systems.

If you are interested in a career in Photogrammetry and have any questions about my experience please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at