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New geospatial science technology minor not just for science majors

Augustana will offer a new experiential minor in geographic information science and technology beginning in the fall of 2021.

“When you look at the location services of smartphones, you can see the digital maps that have become part of our everyday lives, and behind all of these services are geospatial technologies such as GPS, remote sensing, and more recently, drone mapping,” said Dr. Reuben Heine, geography professor.

GIS (geographic information systems) technology is used to find relationships and trends in data. GIS allows data to be presented visually as maps, reports and charts. The technology can be applied to virtually anything that has a location, whether a person, object or event.

The high-paying global market for GIS is expected to be 31 billion by 2025, according to Dr. Jenny Arkle, assistant professor in geography.

Augustana’s fleet of drones helps students learn GIS and other geospatial technology skills to investigate special relationships between phenomena in agriculture, business, energy, law, health and more. In his current research, Joel Padgett ’21 is using GIS to better understand and predict natural hazards such as earthquakes in order to save lives.

The new minor will be available to any Augustana student, regardless of major, because so many fields now involve the collection and analysis of data.

"I'm really happy Augie is moving in this direction," said Barrie Chileen ’17, who uses GIS in her work as a geographer with the Army Corps of Engineers. "It's only going to open more doors for future graduates. Especially with what's going on with COVID, it's been highlighting the power of geospatial technology even more. We're all looking at maps now."

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