Course Information

Application of the principles of geographic information systems and integrally related mapping to solve problems related to environment site characterizations, resource exploration, soil and groundwater contamination, geological and geotechnical investigations, waste management, construction, etc. Comprehensive lab assignments included to give students hands-on experience solving problems with current state-of-the-art software and hardware, digitizers, scanners, GPS units and mobile platforms.

Texts (not required)

1. GIS Fundamentals – A 1st text on GIS [3rd edition] – Paul Bolstad (2012)
2. Frontiers of Geographic Information Technology – Rana & Sharma (2006)
3. Exploring Water Resources using ArcGIS – Hall et al (2007)
4. Exploring the Ocean Environment using ArcGIS – Hall et al (2007)
5. Exploring Tropical Cyclones using ArcGIS – Hall et al (2007)
6. Exploring the Dynamic Earth using ArcGIS – Hall et al (2007)
7. Advanced Spatial Analysis – Longley & Batty (editors) (2003)
8. Modeling Our World – Zeiler (1999)
9. GIS, A computing perspective – Worboys/Duckham (2004)
10. Designing Geodatabases – Arctur & Zeiler (2004)
11. The ESRI Guide to GIS Analysis – Mitchell (2004)
12. Exploring GIS - Chrisman (1997)
13. Introduction to Remote Sensing of the Environment – Richason (editor) (1978)
14. Hydrologic and Hydraulic Modeling Support with GIS – Maidment & Djokic (2000)
15. Disaster Response (GIS for Public Safety) – Amdahl (2001)
16. Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation – Lillesand/Kiefer (1979)
17. Introduction to Geographic Information Systems – Kang-tsung Chang (2002)
18. Fundamentals of GIS – DeMers (2000)
19. GIS for Geoscientists (Modelling with GIS) – Bonham-Carter (1994)
20. Beyond Mapping: Concepts, Algorithms and Issues in GIS – Berry (1993)
21. ArcView 3D Analyst – ESRI Press
22. ArcView Spatial Analyst – ESRI Press
23. Harnessing AutoCAD Land Development Desktop – Zimmerman
24. AutoCAD Map 2004 – Oliver
25. ArcGIS and the Digital City – Huxhold et al (2004)
26. Getting to know ArcObjects – Burke (2003)
27. Getting to know ArcGIS desktop – ESRI Press
28. Understanding GIS, The ARC/INFO Method – ESRI Press.
29. Mastering ArcGIS 4th Edition – Maribeth Price
30. GIS Tutorial 1 (Basic Workbook) – Gorr/Kurland – ESRI Press (2011))
31. GIS Tutorial 2 (Spatial Analysis Workbook) – Allen – ESRI Press (2011)
32. GIS Tutorial 3 (Advanced Workbook) – Allen/Coffey – ESRI Press (2011)


A portable external hard drive with a minimum size of 64GB, with an integrated Wi-Fi is recommended. A mobile platform, for example, iPAD2 or better is recommended. If you do not have one, you will be able to use one on a scheduled time basis. Please schedule with any of the Teaching Assistants well in advance of an assignment due date. 1-year fully licensed software will be provided for your personal use on a laptop or desktop. The recommended hardware requirements for ArcGIS 10x are listed at:

Attendance and Performance Policy

Attendance is expected at all lectures and laboratory sessions. Proper learning of the course material can only be achieved through regular course attendance, active and positive participation in discussions, and an abundance of time spent completing all of the assigned lab assignments and practicing the skills introduced in this course. You may be dropped from a course by the instructor because of excessive absences or unsatisfactory work.

Homework, Quizzes, and Class Participation

Exercises and/or in class assignments/discussions, corresponding to any assigned readings or PodCasts, may be assigned at the beginning of all (non-exam) lecture periods. These exercises are to be completed a week from the day they were assigned, except for extra credit assignments which are due as deemed fit. Participation in group discussions is mandatory for discussions grade. The instructor may collect one or all of these assigned works for grading. Late homework or laboratory assignments will NOT be accepted, except under extraordinary circumstances.

Short quizzes may also be given at the instructor's discretion at certain times during the semester. As a means of encouraging interactive learning in the course, the instructor may base part of your grade on your willingness to participate in class discussions and assignments.


Two in-class exams will be given throughout the semester, and a comprehensive exam and/or project (or a series of mini-projects). All exams will be cumulative and will primarily consist of GIS theory and practice basics. Make-up exams will generally NOT be given. However, exceptions will be made in the case of genuine emergencies (the instructor will define "genuine" and "emergency" at his discretion). Vacations or lack of preparation are not valid reasons.


Your grade for this course will be determined on the following basis, and the standard university grading policy will be followed. However, the instructor reserves the right to curve grades as he deems necessary.

    Undergraduate Student Graduate Student
Homework / Reading Assignments / Discussions 25% 15%
Lab Assignments 50% 40%
In-class exams (2 @ 12.5 % each) 25% 25%
Final Exam / Project 20% 20%

    Final grade Undergraduate Student
90-100 A
80-89 B
70-79 C
60-69 D
0-59 F

Academic honesty

Teamwork is encouraged for studying course topics, but giving aid to another student during an exam or quiz or taking information from another student's exam or quiz papers constitutes academic dishonesty. Handing in similar lab assignments in entirety is also academically unacceptable and will not be tolerated by the instructor. Academic dishonesty will be handled according to code of academic responsibility and conduct.


The course schedule, content, and assignments are subject to modification when circumstances dictate and as the course progresses and matures. If changes are made, you will be given due notice.

General Information (Current and Future Trends)

Overview of GIS modeling
GIS software capabilities are useful in themselves, but they become much more important when they are combined into various kinds of analytical models. These include resource allocation models, population forecasting and spatial distribution models, and land use forecasting models, transportation models, gravity models, and site selection models. Combining economic and environmental models provides an enhanced overview of perhaps the majority of the components of many environmental situations.

Overview of Soil Science and Geology Applications
The USDA’s Soil Conservation Service has been developing a county level spatial soil data set for use in a GIS known as Soil Survey Geographic Data Base (SSURGO). RUSLE/GIS system developed at the Bureau of Land Management promises potential adoption to accurate soil degradation predictions on a global scale. The system interfaces the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation information with a GIS.

Overview of Spatial Analysis
Extending GIS to the third dimension has relied heavily on development in hardware speeds, rendering and computer graphics software. It is now possible to display 3-D environments almost as quickly as the 2-D flat map, and this is providing new insights from visualization that translate more abstract information into a form that many non-expert user can immediately understand.

Overview of GIS usage in Public Safety
In a world increasingly beset by natural and man-made disasters, it's hard to imagine a more striking or beneficial use of GIS than in matters of public safety. When you stop to consider the number and kinds of disasters that happen at any given moment around the world, the elements and conditions that cause them, the factors and the forces that mix and collide as they occur – and the often indescribably chaos and misery that ensues– the idea of a comprehensive and effective system of response starts to look impossible. But that's precisely what GIS is.

Overview of Ground Water and Environment Applications
Digital cartographic techniques have been applied in wetland studies. The data files include variations in the spatial distribution of vegetation, soil type, hydrology, geology, and peat characteristics. The information can be shown as a series of maps with related data tables or the information from different data layers can be integrated. The digitized data can be rapidly available for a variety of uses, such as resource or land use analysis, and civil engineering or environmental studies.

Overview of DEM usage in Water Resources Modeling
Topography plays an important role in the distribution and flux of water and energy parameters within natural landscapes. The automated extraction of topographic parameters from DEMs is recognized as a viable alternative to traditional surveys and manual evaluation of topographic maps, particularly as the quality and coverage of DEM data increase.

In this course, you should attain the following goals and/or objectives by the end of the semester. You should be able to: -

Define or describe various terms, symbols, etc., as given in the notes, and/or supplementary materials.
Learn and fully utilize the fundamental properties of vector and raster data.
Interpret correctly and make extensive use of pertinent information to adopt a GIS to assess the situation.
Analyze and apply the basics of cartography, geodesy, and geography.
Ascertain how data structure dictates capability, accuracy, and analysis of a model.
Develop methods for creating, determining, and evaluating geodatabases.
Apply the fundamental principles, generalizations, and theories of GIS to real life situations.
Develop skills necessary to improve rational-thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making.
Enhance a sense of personal responsibility as evidenced by self-reliance and self discipline in the completion of tasks assigned.