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A Geospatial Teaching Laboratory for Student Education

Investigators
Ozbay, Gulnihal
Institutions
Delaware State University
Start date
2010
End date
2013
Objective

Institutional long-range goals of DSU are highly associated with this project. This project directly compliments two of DSU's nine institutional goals listed in the Delaware State University's Strategic Plan (2007-2010). This project addresses NIFA Strategic Goal b, d, e, f by empowering agriculture students with skills in geospatial technologies that are essential for them to understand and study issues including global food security and hunger, global climate change, food safety and sustainable rural economies. It will also help achieve one of major goals of the Capacity Building Grant program: 3. To enhance and strengthen the quality of Teaching, Research and Extension programs at the 1890 institutions to more readily establish them as full partners in the U.S. food and agricultural sciences higher education system. Successful implementation of the proposed project will help DSU to achieve its long term institutional goals and effectively build its capacity in educating students in food and agricultural sciences.

The project proposes three primary objectives: (1) build infrastructure in geospatial technologies at Delaware State University with the development of a geospatial teaching laboratory on campus; (2) increase the pool of well trained agriculture students, particularly minorities and women with skills in geospatial technologies through course offering; (3) improve exposure of DSU undergraduate students to geospatial technologies. The expected products, results and measurable outcomes include:

1. A permanent geospatial teaching laboratory with new equipment, instruments and software packages related to geospatial technologies and two undergraduate courses in geospatial technologies in CAR's curriculum.

2. New facilities available for courses in geospatial technologies and other existing courses; establishment of the CAR's geospatial teaching laboratory, and increased pool of well trained agriculture students, particularly minorities and women with skills in geospatial technologies.

3. Strengthened agricultural science education with increased students' (undergraduate and others) knowledge and skills in geospatial technologies. This would complement the students' other courses. The project will also build a future workforce pipeline for the USDA to access DSU students skilled in the application of geospatial technologies in agriculture. Graduating agriculture students will be able to demonstrate skills in spatial data analysis and competencies in geospatial technologies in the food and agricultural science.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
College of Agriculture and Related Science (CARS) at Delaware State University (DSU) has educated undergraduates for over hundred years. All of them graduated without any skills in geospatial technologies including Geographic Information System (GIS), Global Positioning System (GPS) and remote sensing due to the lack of facility and courses in geospatial technologies. This project ""A geospatial teaching laboratory for student education"" helps CARS to acquire a geospatial teaching laboratory and build its capacity in educating undergraduate students to gain skills in geospatial technologies.
It has three primary objectives: (1) build infrastructure in geospatial technologies at Delaware State University; (2) increase the pool of well trained agriculture students, particularly minorities and women with skills in geospatial technologies; (3) improve exposure of DSU undergraduate students to geospatial technologies. This teaching project is highly related to the following NIFA strategic goals: b. Global food security and hunger; d. Global climate change; e. Food safety; f. Sustainable rural economies. It has great potential to encourage regional program delivery in the following priority areas: d) Water quality, e) Global food security and Agriculture bio-security, g) Sustainable Agriculture, and i) Global climate change. It focuses on Baccalaureate degree-level teaching improvement in the food and agricultural sciences. Two need areas: a. Curricula Design and Materials Development. d. Scientific Instrumentation for Education are addressed. This project attaches almost any discipline. It will improve the quality of food and agriculture science education at DSU and prepare students skills in geospatial technologies and increase their competitiveness in agricultural job market.

APPROACH:
Methods: Objective 1: Building infrastructure. Identification of the laboratory's objectives: A permanent geospatial teaching laboratory will be established by the PI and Co-PI in the College of Agriculture and Related Science at DSU to support the college's education in agriculture and natural resources and provide an environment where faculty and students work together to advance knowledge in the applications of geospatial technologies in food and agricultural sciences. Setup of laboratory structure: The geospatial teaching laboratory will be managed by the PI as the laboratory manager whose responsibilities include: teaching courses in geospatial technologies, day to day operation of the facility; maintain the laboratory, and provide technical support for teaching and research work. Testing of laboratory facility: After installation, all equipment, instruments, software packages mentioned above will be tested for performance. For all equipment and instruments, a wide range of features and settings on them will be tested for reliability. Building laboratory services: After installation and testing of equipment, instruments and software packages, all Delaware geospatial data will be collected and a geospatial database will be built by the PI since the Laboratory will serve a spatial data portal for CARS. The computer server in this laboratory will store all Delaware spatial data used for courses and training in geospatial technologies. It will also maintain the large spatial databases and models developed from research at CARS.
Objective 2: Developing new courses. Courses will be developed by the PI and Co-PI with the aid of scientists from USDA. There will be two new courses- Introduction to GIS and Introduction to Remote Sensing.
Objective 3: Improving exposure of DSU undergraduate students to geospatial technologies. This objective will be achieved through students' easy access to the geospatial laboratory and addition of geospatial technologies components into existing courses. The geospatial teaching laboratory will open 24 hrs to students. In addition, the geospatial laboratory will provide free consulting and lending of instruments to students in the CARS. As a teaching facility, the geospatial laboratory will provide hands-on training workshops to students and faculty in CARS during summer. Evaluation Plans: This is a self-evaluating project. The objectives are either met or not. The geospatial lab is either established or not. The new courses are either developed or not. They equally are either offered or not. So the evaluation of the project infrastructure is straight forward i.e the infrastructure is either met or not. However, a methodological evaluation is required on student participation in the project. Four impact indicators will be used to evaluate the success of the project: (a) Undergraduate enrollment in the geospatial technology courses, (b) Graduate enrollment in the existing GIS course, (c) DSU graduates securing geospatial related jobs including jobs with USDA. (d). Establishment of a geospatial lab at the CARS. Data for evaluation of enrollments will be collected through the DSU Registration Office.

PROGRESS:
2010/08 TO 2013/08
Target Audience: Our target audiences were undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of emphasizing exposure to geo-spatial technologies, we achieved increasing the number of trained students, particularly minority students and women in geospatial technology applications. Over 25 undergraduate students and about 10 graduate students took advantage of the resources become available to them via the program activities. Of these total, 2 students were NOAA-LMRCSC Program funded students, 1 student was a fellow for NOAA-ECSC Program. We also provided supplemental training and knowledge to the professional staff members and junior faculty in geo-spatial technologies, conducted several workshops in DSU, VSU, MSU and ECSU campuses. Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay served as the principal investigator for the project and had overseen all the program related activities. A post-doctoral fellow hired to help the principal investigator, Dr. Ozbay related teaching activities (two courses in geospatial technologies), the development of the mobile geospatial lab, and student research (two graduate students, Brian Reckenbeil and Kris Roeske and 5 other undergraduate students� short term research projects). In addition to the primary program personnel (Drs. Ozbay and Augustine), faculty members; Dr. Mingxin Guo (Professor in Agriculture), Dr. Christopher Heckscher (Associate Professor in Natural Resources) and Dr. Sathya Elavarthi (Assistant Professor in Agriculture) utilized some of the resources (i.e. software, computer, GPS Units) provided by this program. Some of the student research projects completed utilized the resources provided with this program in oyster restoration, forestry, wildlife habitat and wildlife ecology and wetlands. The mobile geospatial lab has allowed flexibility for the resources such as computers and associated software to be utilized by other faculty in other programs. Software (i.e. ArcGIS) purchased was shared with other users on campus (Dr. Gupta at Public Health and Dr. Viswanathan at Business) and College of Agriculture and Related Sciences Cooperative Extension. Changes/Problems: The major change in this program was an unexpected personnel change among the program coordinators. As a result of this personnel change, a post-doctoral fellow was hired to assume the duties set forth by the principal investigator related to teaching (two courses in geospatial technologies), the development of the mobile geospatial lab, and student research. Additional modification was made to establish mobile geospatial lab due to limited power line capability and space to accommodate all the tools and computers purchased via this grant activities. Additional projector, display panel, and water quality monitoring tools were purchased for the program. Water quality monitoring tools were used for the undergraduate students� research projects and allowed them to work with the data they collected and present their research on the maps. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? A post-doctoral fellow was hired to assist the principal investigator related to teaching (two courses in geospatial technologies), the development of the geospatial lab, and student research. Already, syllabi for undergraduate and graduate courses in GIS and application were developed and these two courses were offered during the project duration (Spring 2012 and Fall 2012), and entitled as Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and GIS Application in Natural Resources. The focuses of these courses were on providing and basic knowledge in GIS theory and applications as well as hands-on training in ESRI ArcGIS software. Resources acquired through this project increased the available departmental capabilities in geospatial technologies. Updated software and increased licenses enabled the possibility for increased enrollment and exposure to geospatial technology. Mobile geospatial lab computers improved overall workflow efficiencies and provided flexibilities in their uses by not only the faculty members but also by the extension staff. Added GPS technology has enabled faculty and students to integrate geospatial analysis within different research projects including the mapping of high accuracy dense forestry research, the impact of urban forestry on the Delaware State University campus, the location and mapping of particular bird species, blue crab population dynamics in relation to invasive Phargmites as well as the impact of oyster habitat restoration. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Yes, establishment of the mobile geospatail lab and enhancement of the GIS and REmote Sensing courses allowed more students and faculty to take advantage of the resources and engage them better in research and summer internships opportunities in GIS and Remote Sending related areas. More faculty members have been actively using GPS Units and ArcGIS software for their research and teaching efforts. Over 40 students directly benefited from the capabilities avail to them by the program resources. Since our main target audience was students in this program, we reached over 25% of the total students in the Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported.
PROGRESS:
2010/08/15 TO 2011/08/14
OUTPUTS: By the end of year one of this project, we have made progress towards meeting our proposed primary objectives. First, improvements have been made regarding the infrastructure in geospatial technologies at Delaware State University. Geographic Information Systems software has been upgraded to version 10 of ESRI ArcGIS. Furthermore, the overall number of licenses or seats available to students has been increased. In addition, extension software, such as Statistical Analyst and Tracking Analyst, has been installed and made available to students for improved geospatial analysis capabilities. Along with updated software offerings, laboratory computer equipment has been processed and awaiting delivery during the fall semester. Improvements in computer hardware will be evident by faster processor speeds, increased memory, and advanced graphics display capabilities. This improved infrastructure has led to advancements in meeting our second primary objective of increasing the pool of well trained agriculture students. In the fall semester, a course entitled GIS Applications in Natural Resources was initially limited to graduate students; however, the installation of additional computers and updated ArcGIS software has made it possible for undergraduate students to have the opportunity to enroll as well. This opportunity will undoubtedly better prepare students for working with geospatial technologies. Our third objective of exposing students to geospatial technologies has been addressed partly due to the increased enrollment in the fall GIS course. Although, additional exposure has been made possible through the introduction of a Trimble GPS receiver with mapping grade accuracy. This unit has already enabled students to participate in research involving field work which requires the students to collect feature data in the field and then later map and analyze the data upon return to campus. PARTICIPANTS: Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay serves as the principal investigator for the project and has overseen all the program related activities. Much of the progress in this first year has been limited by the occurrence of an unexpected personnel change among the program coordinators. As a result of this personnel change, a post-doctoral fellow has been hired to assume the duties set forth by the principal investigator related to teaching (two courses in geospatial technologies), the development of the geospatial lab, and student research. In addition to the primary program personnel (Drs. Ozbay & Augustine), faculty members; Dr. Mingxin Guo, Dr. Christopher Heckscher and Dr. Sathya Elavarthi have been currently utilizing some of the resources provided by this program. Some of the student research projects are currently undertaken in oyster restoration, forestry, wildlife habitat and wildlife ecology and wetlands. TARGET AUDIENCES: Our target audiences are undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of emphasizing exposure to geo-spatial technologies, we will be increasing the number of trained students, particulary minority students and women. We also provide supplemental training and knowledge to the professional staff members and junior faculty in geo-spatial technologies. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: The major change in this program is an unexpected personnel change among the program coordinators. As a result of this personnel change, a post-doctoral fellow has been hired to assume the duties set forth by the principal investigator related to teaching (two courses in geospatial technologies), the development of the geospatial lab, and student research.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DELX0029-12
Accession number
223050
Categories
Food Defense and Integrity
Education and Training
Commodities
Seafood