Flying into the Future: Dr. Martinez’s GIS Course Set for Spring

“We are bringing the latest geospatial technology to students, faculty, and the SIUE campus to inform our cutting edge research and curriculum.”—Dr. Adriana E. Martinez

Dr. Adriana E. Martinez’s class. Photo taken by a drone.

As investment in drone technology soars, applications for this type of technology are beginning to rise as well. Though typically associated with the general hobbyist or for use by the military, these unmanned aerial systems have landed in the commercial realm, and are beginning to transform industries around the world.

This spring, Dr. Adriana E. Martinez will teach a cross-listed graduate course, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Modeling for the Natural Environment. With a joint appointment in the Departments of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Martinez’s research weaves together physical geography, fluvial geomorphology, riparian zones, and GIS.  Her course will give students the opportunity to work in the Geospatial Technology Lab and collect data using new and innovative drone technology. Students will also learn how to utilize software to model and build upon previous topographical maps.

“We have two years of data now,” commented Martinez. “One of the really great things about using drone technology is that you can take highly detailed aerial photographs and look at how landscapes are changing. This is something that would have previously required a [costly] manned-flight.”

The course also incorporates information on how to read airspace maps and educates students about Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. Upon completion of the graduate course, students have all the necessary information and skills to actually get certified to fly drones.

“This course allows students the opportunity to learn about drones and then, if they choose, they can get certified to fly them,” said Martinez. “A lot of jobs are beginning to incorporate these types of technologies and in getting certified, students can really hit the ground running after they graduate.”

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