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Volume 1, No. 8

April 2014

A Monthly Newsletter of the National Geospatial Technology Center of Excellence

Innovation in Geospatial Science and Technology Education

Empowering Colleges: Expanding the Geospatial Workforce

In this issue: Fieldwork at NASA Langley Research Center

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Fieldwork at the Living Coast Discovery Center

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Contact Information Vince DiNoto: 502-213-7280 Rodney Jackson: 336-224-4544 Ann Johnson: 208-894-4541 Rich Schultz: 630-617-3128 Ken Yanow: 619-421-6700, ext. 5720 The GeoTech Center website is: This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation (DUE #1304591). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions expressed in this material are those of the authors(s) and not necessarily those of the National Science Foundation. The GeoTech Center is virtual, comprised of a Director, four Associate Directors, and nine Assistant Directors from institutions across the nation. The central office is located at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY. Jefferson Community & Tech College 1000 Community College Drive Louisville, KY 40272 (502) 213-GEOT

Fieldwork at NASA Langley Research Center The Project

Virginia Big Tree Program

Community College students and faculty recently completed fieldwork at NASA Langley Research Center to perform a tree inventory and analysis as part of a geospatial technology project. The project provided valuable education experience and supported NASA’s needs for capturing data. Nine students and three faculty members from Virginia Western Community College (VWCC), Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC), and Dabney S. Lancaster Community College (DSLCC) participated. The service-learning project is a component of a pilot distance learning geospatial information systems (GIS) course being offered by VWCC.

A bonus for the project was the measurement of two trees that were entered into the Virginia Big Tree program. A sassafras tree on Center is ranked as the third largest of its kind in the state while a large white oak will rank within the top ten trees statewide.

The innovative interdisciplinary distance learning class was instructed by TNCC faculty, Cherie Aukland, and delivered by VWCC with leadership by faculty David Webb. Webb, Aukland, and DSLCC faculty Brian Keiling developed the course content. Students from both GIS and forestry pathway programs participated in the fieldwork and teamed together to collect and map tree data. Using GPS data collectors, the students gathered information on tree species, health, maintenance recommendations, and tree size. Besides the valuable learning experience, the data collected will be incorporated into NASA Langley’s tree inventory. Students also completed an analysis of the data to provide maps of problem tree locations, species concentration, and relative tree size.

“I would have to say that it was an amazing learning experience for me. It was wonderful to get hands-on experience using tools that collect the data that goes in the databases and creating the databases. I gained first-hand field experience with the power of GIS. Not to mention, I learned quite a bit about urban forestry. I liked the fact that I now know several more possible opportunities for employment in the GIS realm! It seems endless!” said Heidi Phillips, VWCC GIS student. “David, Cherie, and Brian are fantastic instructors and really took the leadership on making this course happen. We are pleased to be working with them and NASA Langley on this project to provide a great experience for these students,” said Chris Carter, VSGC Deputy Director. The field experience was sponsored by the GeoTEd (Expanding Geospatial Technician Education Through Virginia’s Community Colleges) project. (continued on Page 2) 1

Innovation in Geospatial Science and Technology Education

Empowering Colleges: Expanding the Geospatial Workforce

Langley Research Center continued

The Living Coast Discovery Center

GeoTEd is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF-ATE #1205110) and administered by Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) in partnership with VWCC, TNCC, Southwest Virginia Community College, Virginia Community College System, and Virginia Tech. GeoTEd scholarships funded the students’ tuition and travel. NASA Langley, a VSGC member, is working with the GeoTEd team to offer more service learning projects in the future. GeoTEd partners intend to repeat the class and expand it to all of the 23 Virginia community colleges in future semesters.

The Living Coast Discover Center, home to unique animals and plants of Southern California, is located 6 miles south of downtown San Diego, sitting on the 316-acre Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

NASA Langley’s Environmental Office hosted the visit, and Mary Gainer, Historical Preservation Officer, was excited to provide an educational playground for the students and faculty. “I love having students come to NASA. They bring such an enthusiasm that helps renew our outlook on work, and the benefit to NASA is having additional data captured that we would not normally have time to do ourselves. Everybody wins!” Gainer said. VWCC GIS student Brittany Johnson stated, “I really enjoyed being able to work with the forestry students. I learned from them, and I hope they learned from me. Being able to tour NASA Langley was a great treat. Our sponsor Mary Gainer was awesome. To see how passionate she was about her work inspired me to fight for my dream job.” For further information, please contact: Chris Carter, VSGC Deputy Director

Pictured are Michael Webb, Brittany Johnson, and Heidi Phillips from Virginia Western Community College.

The Center is not a natural history museum. Rescued birds thrive at exhibits such as Raptor Row and Eagle Mesa. Owls, pelicans, gnatcatchers, and eagles are just a few of the resident native birds. In addition, the Center’s aquariums are home to Moray eels, Leopard sharks, stingrays, guitarfish, and other marine life found in San Diego Bay.

Southwestern College: Recently, Southwestern College has partnered with the Discovery Center, providing the Center with GPS units, GIS software, and student interns to help map the Center grounds as well as develop K-12 curriculum (such as a Discovery Center Geocache). “We will be creating easy-tofollow maps for the kids who go on tours, as well as a species map. For the geocache, we are creating passports for the kids. When they find the geocache, using the GPS units, there will be a container with a stamp in it so they can stamp their passport.” Jessica Dozier from Southwestern College stated. “It will be a lot of fun and a great experience for the kids.”

For further information regarding the Learning Coast Discovery Center, please visit:


(502) 213-GEOT

April, 2014 Newsletter  

Volume 1, No 8 In this issue: 1. Fieldwork at NASA Langley Research Center 2. Fieldwork the Learning Coast Discovery Center.

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