Preliminary Schedule (Subject to Change)

Week, Topic, and Assignments

January 18: Introduction

Topics and tasks: Introduction to course. Develop plans for the first project: water use and the Edward's Aquifer. This project will involve the creation of a GIS database from scratch.

January 23: Project Planning and Lifecycle, and System Design

Topics and tasks: Introduce the steps employed to develop effective GIS projects. Discuss project lifecycle and stress importance of needs assessment and prototype projects. Begin aquifer project with digitizing warmup exercise.

January 30: System Design

Topics and tasks: Consider issues involved in translating system needs into the design of a GIS database. Finish first digitizing exercise. Begin digitizing map coverages for first project.

February 6: Database Concepts and Design

Topics and tasks: Consider the database as a representation or model of reality. Discuss the process of abstraction and modeling. Consider how information can be encoded in flat, hierarchical, and relational databases. Review methods by which properties such as topology can be modeled in a GIS dataset.

February 13: Map Projections and Datum Use

Topics and tasks: Discuss the steps involved in of map projection and the major compromises involved in representing three-dimensional reality in two-dimensional maps. Introduce the basic vocabulary and how cartographic needs are related to widely-used projections. Discuss datum use and the situations in which it warrants special attention.

February 20: Locational Reference Systems

Topics and tasks: Review of major land survey and reference systems employed in the United States and Texas. Address difficulties of drawing information from different sources.

February 27: Data Sources and Conversion

Topics and tasks: Consider the availability of GIS and statistical data sources, both paper and digital and the way the situation is changing. Address problems of conversion and issues of documentation. First project due. Begin setup for terrain modeling exercise.

March 6: Contour Mapping

Topics and tasks: Introduce principles of contour mapping. Overview strengths and limitations of various interpolation algorithms. First exam on Friday.

March 13: Spring Break

March 20: Terrain Modeling

Topics and tasks: Consider methods for three-dimensional modeling. Touch on other issues of three-dimensional reconstruction and rendering.

March 27: GIS in Large Organizations

Topics and tasks: Consider the human dimension in developing and implementing information technologies like GIS. Finish terrain modeling exercise. Begin final projects.

April 3: Local, State, and Federal GIS Policy

Topics and tasks: Consider how GIS is being implemented at the local, state, and federal levels. Examine common problems arising from attempts at implementation and integration. Discuss some of the policy initiatives being pursued at the state and federal levels.

April 10: International GIS and Managing Large Databases

Topics and tasks: Survey ways in which GIS is being employed in global science stressing both the potential and problems of these projects. Discuss some of the problems that arise from managing and maintaining very large GIS datasets.

April 17: Economic, Legal, and Ethical Issues

Topics and tasks: Examine situations in which GIS and information technology intersect the law. Consider some of the ethical problems that arise from the use and misuse of information technology, including the issue of privacy.

April 24: Trends in GIS Technologies

May 1: Presentations of Final Projects

May 16 (Tuesday) Final Exam 2:00- 5:00 PM. Final Project (datasets and documentation) due by 10:00 PM.


Fifty percent of your final course grade will be based on two major exercises (20% for first project and 30% for final project), forty percent on two short exams (mid-term and final), and ten percent on a terrain modeling exercise.