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College of Arts and Sciences > Natural Resources Management > Environmental Geology > Geographic Information System Minor and Certificate Program

Geographic Information System Minor and Certificate Program


Course Descriptions | Undergraduate GIS Minor | Undergraduate Certificate Program | Graduate Certificate Program


student and professor using GIS systemThe purpose of the GIS programs at New Mexico Highlands University is to provide students and interested members of the community with an opportunity to develop a basic proficiency with cutting edge Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology that can immediately be applied in the workplace, provide a highly marketable skill-base when seeking employment, and/or endow the student with skills for pursuing an advanced degree in GIS. GIS is a computer-based database management system for capture, storage, retrieval, analysis and display of spatial data. NMHU’s GIS programs include a minor and certificate program, a robust suite of GIs and remote sensing courses, and a full service geospatial lab and classroom. Students who complete the minor or certificate program will be better prepared to map data for decision-making in business, environmental protection, risk assessment, utility planning & management, emergency response, land use planning, transportation planning, delivery route planning, real estate, crime prevention, and so on.  The GIS minor consists of 22 credit hours and the GIS certificate program requires 18 credit hours.  Both programs afford students with a conceptual base and technical skills in using a desktop GIS and applying GIS across disciplines to solve real-world problems. Classes are taught in a dedicated, state of the art geospatial education classroom supported by an array of equipment managed by the university’s Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences (GAINS) Lab. The GAINS Lab also provides internship and continuing education opportunities.

Minor and Certificate Program Description
GIS technology is a growing component of scientific research and analysis and is also well established within the social sciences. This proficiency is still a new field and limited experience often yields very competitive pay. Students graduating from four-year institutions are expected to have a basic familiarity with GIS, particularly when entering natural resource careers.  Furthermore, once students are exposed to GIS at an introductory level, they frequently ask for more; even to the point of wishing to specialize in this field.  To address these needs, many schools have established GIS concentration areas and post-graduate certificates. The GIS Minor and GIS Certificate Program at Highlands University makes the university more competitive in recruiting and retaining students and improves students’ opportunities in the job market. The design of both tracks affords Highlands’ undergraduate and graduate students with a supplemental program to specialize in within their chosen degree field, while the certificate program serves as a stand-alone program for undergraduate and graduate students, members of the community, and other non-traditional students interested in gaining marketable experience with practical GIS experience.

Opportunities for Employment       
The GIS minor and GIS Certificate Program provides students with the opportunity to learn concepts and applications of GIS technology, obtain hands-on experience using the latest GIS software, use geospatial technology to develop solutions to issues facing communities and industry, explore interdisciplinary elements of GIS including cartography, database design and spatial analysis, and understand how GIS is used within health care, public works, natural and historical resources, environmental management, geologic mapping, and other fields.  Collectively these skills provide individuals that complete the GIS Minor and GIS Certificate Program with a strong skill set that is highly marketable across many disciplines with numerous employment opportunities within New Mexico and abroad. 

Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences (GAINS) Lab
The Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences (GAINS) Lab provides geospatial education, research, and service support to NMHU and external entities. It maintains a broad variety of geospatial applications including cartography, geospatial analysis, remote sensing, and Global Position System data acquisition and processing. It has emerging capabilities in photogrammetric feature extraction and terrain modeling, stereo/3-D visualization, Object-Oriented Image Classification, and LiDAR processing and analysis. In addition to supporting students, faculty, and classes, the GAINS Lab takes on cost-reimbursable projects that grow the lab’s capabilities and provide enhanced, real world opportunities for students.

This program is under the College of Arts and Science
 

Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences (GAINS) Lab
The Geospatial Applications in Natural Sciences (GAINS) Lab is New Mexico Highlands University’s geospatial technology resource center. It was developed through funding from the USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions Education Grants Program. It is managed by the Director of Geospatial Technology, under the supervision of the Natural Resource Management Department Chair. The GAINS Lab has a full suite of geographic information systems (GIS) hardware and software. It maintains a broad variety of geospatial applications including cartography, geospatial analysis, remote sensing, and Global Position System data acquisition and processing. It has emerging capabilities in photogrammetric feature extraction and terrain modeling, stereo/3-D visualization, Object-Oriented Image Classification, and LiDAR processing and analysis. In addition, the GAINS Lab provides support to a 20 seat GIS and Remote Sensing classroom outfitted with ESRI ArcGIS Advanced, Erdas Imagine Professional, and other geospatial software. The GAINS Lab is unique in that its primary focus is support to geospatial instruction and integration of geospatial concepts and techniques into faculty and student research across all disciplines. It also provides technical assistance to local regional organizations seeking to incorporate geospatial information into their functions. All lab efforts are designed to develop student knowledge of geospatial capabilities, endow them with practical, hands-on learning opportunities, and provide them with a highly marketable skill-base when seeking employment. Through GAINS, we are developing a rigorous natural resources management curriculum inclusive of new GIS technologies which will translate to an increase in a diverse and geotechnically capable workforce.

Responsibilities
The GAINS Lab is responsible for administrating NMHU’s geospatial technologies and services through.

  • Supporting geospatial instruction.
  • Integration of geospatial concepts and techniques into faculty and student research.
  • Technical assistance to organizations seeking to incorporate geospatial information into their functions.

 

Geospatial Technologies

EQUIPMENT FUNCTION
SOKKIA Total Station (4) An electronic/optical surveying instrument.  Determines coordinates of an unknown point relative to a known coordinate; measures angles and distances of survey points.
Trimble GeoExplorer XT and XM GPS Enables digital mapping and improves field productivity.  Provides sub-meter accuracy, high quality photo capture, wireless Internet, and connectivity options.
Garmin GPS 60 and 62 series GPS Field-mapping grade GPS receivers useful for most environmental data collection applications.
3D Workstation Allows 3-D visualization of topography vegetation, watershed boundaries, and geologic formations to map spatial variations in the lab.  Allows for the generation of custom, high-resolutions digital terrain models.

 

SOFTWARE FUNCTION
ESRI ArcGIS Advanced and extensions Basic and advanced GIS data creation, management, and analysis
Erdas Imagine Professional Remote Sensing data processing and analysis
Exelis ENVI Remote Sensing data processing and analysis
Trimble Terrasynch and Pathfinder Global Positioning System data collection and
processing
Trimble eCognition Object-Oriented Image Classification
QT Modeler LiDAR and Terrain Visualization
LPS 360 LiDAR processing and production
Leica Photogrammetry Suite Stereo imagery analysis, ortho-imagery creation, feature extraction.
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