Graduate Program in Geographic Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems and Remote Sensing

The rapidly expanding global population places increasing stress on the limited land, mineral, vegetation, and water resources of the world. Industrialization during the past century has added to the stress on these resources and the environment. Never before in human history has the need been greater for sound planning, management, and equitable distribution of these resources and for environmental protection. One of the crucial elements of any effort to meet these needs is the capability to inventory the renewable and nonrenewable resources of the earth and to monitor changes. Geographic information systems (GIS) use modern data-gathering methods, such as global positioning systems and remote sensing, and exploit advanced information-processing techniques, such as photogrammetry and digital image analysis, to provide this capability for a wide variety of applications. Photographic, microwave, and electro-optical sensor systems carried aloft by aircraft and spacecraft can gather, in just a short time, vast amounts of data about the earth and its environment. Sophisticated electronic systems and computers can then be used to manipulate these data in order to extract valuable information about the area surveyed.

For nearly half a century, Purdue University has been among the leaders in education and research related to geographic information systems and remote sensing. The application of global positioning systems (GPS) has increased in civilian useage since the capability was demonstrated in a variety of fields. The methods and applications of these closely related technologies are taught in numerous courses across the West Lafayette Campus--in agronomy, earth and atmospheric sciences, forestry and natural resources, civil engineering, and electrical engineering. In addition to the research programs in the respective schools, Purdue's Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing (LARS) provides facilities and an environment within which faculty, professional staff, and students from diverse disciplines can interact to discover, develop, and apply new knowledge and methods for surveying, measuring, and understanding our planet.

Representative Graduate Courses

Prerequisites and Admission Procedures. The graduate program in remote sensing, global positioning systems and geographic information systems is a multidisciplinary effort involving departments from across the campus. Graduate degrees are earned in the graduate major field from a particular department rather than in remote sensing, GIS or GPS per se. Such departments are represented by the participating faculty listed above. A student wishing to study in these fields should consult with the graduate faculty of the department from which he or she expects to obtain the degree. (It is not necessary that the student's undergraduate degree be in the same discipline; e.g., a student with a bachelor's degree in geography from another institution might consider graduate study at Purdue in agronomy, earth and atmospheric sciences, or civil engineering.)

Degree Requirements. The student's major professor will be selected from the student's major area. A program of study will be tailored both to reflect the particular interests of the student and to meet the requirements of the school/department with which the student is associated. The candidate's advisory committee will normally be composed of faculty from a mix of disciplines optimally supporting the student's plan of study.

Fields of Study. Areas of study include (but are not limited to):

Physical principles of data acquisition systems:

  • atmospheric science
  • geochemistry
  • geophysics
  • optical
  • microwave radiometry
  • reflectance spectroscopy

Engineering aspects of data acquisition and analysis:

  • data base design
  • land information systems
  • multispectral image processing
  • pattern recognition
  • photogrammetry
  • photointerpretation
  • sensor system design

Geographic information systems applications:

  • agricultural meteorology
  • crop production and ecology
  • cadastral information systems
  • digital terrain modeling
  • engineering geology
  • environmental degradation
  • forest information systems
  • forest management
  • geology
  • hydrology
  • land use
  • mineral and energy resources
  • natural resource management
  • outdoor recreation
  • soil classification and survey
  • water resource management
  • wildlife management

Global positioning systems Applications:

  • navigation
  • geodesy
  • surveying and mapping
  • photogrammetry
  • crustal dynamics
  • orbital tracking of space vehicles
  • reference frame monitoring
  • development and maintenance of geographic information systems
  • geological surveys
  • crop yield management
  • waste deposit management
  • emergency and rescue missions
  • intelligent vehicle and highway systems

For further information, contact any of the participating faculty in their departments, or Dr. Melba Crawford, Director, Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing, Purdue University, Agronomy, Lilly Hall - Room 3-353, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Updated: August 2006