The Geographer's Craft, Spring

This schedule will be revised in December 1999 for use during the semester of Spring 2000.

Click here to view the index of lecture and discussion notes, the menu of warmup exercises and assignments, or sets of study and review questions .

January 19: Introduction to CAD.

Topics and tasks: Introduction to Microstation and computer-assisted drafting (CAD).  No class Monday: MLK Holiday.


January 26: CAD Basics and Beyond.

Topics and tasks: Overview and practice with Microstation. Continue with Your Village assignment.


February 2: More CAD Using Public Access Datasets.

Topics and tasks: More map editing and compositing using CAD. Learn how to download and use basemaps provided agencies of the State of Texas. Study documentation and file structures of other public-access datasets. Experiment with importing different file formats.


February 9: Machine Space: Technology in the Urban Environment

Topics and tasks: Review effects of urbanization on environment. Consider ways in GIS is used for environmental and habitat analysis.Consider issues of collating and compositing datasources for landuse studies. Plan and organize study.


February 16: Coordinate Systems

Topics and tasks: Raise issue of establishing and measuring location. Address issue of how and why coordinate systems differ. Survey major issues and terms. Introduce principle land survey and coordinate systems employed in Texas. Raise issues of accuracy and precision. Raise further issues in cartographic design and composition.


February 23: Questions of Accuracy and Precision.

Topics and tasks: Consider how accuracy and precision effect spatial datasets. Examine major sources and how they can propogate and cascade in GIS databases.


March 2: Managing Error.

Topics and tasks: Consider methods for dealing with error and imprecision in spatial datasets. Discuss standards for creating GIS databases and methods of testing for and estimating error. Introduce sensitivity analysis. Continue Waller Creek Study.


March 9: Differential GPS.

Topics and tasks: Introduce the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the ways it can be employed to collect locational data. Address strengths and limitations of various techniques. Survey Geography Building.


March 16: Spring Break.

March 23: Three-dimensional Modeling.

Topics and tasks: Consider methods for three-dimensional modeling by reconstructing a Nicaraguan village from nineteenth century maps and prints.


March 30: Rendering and Animation.

Topics and tasks: Introduce tools for rendering a three-dimensional map. Learn how to "photograph" map views and how to prepare animations. Create a "fly-through" or "walk through" of Greytown.


April 6: Terrain Modeling and Contour Mapping.

Topics and tasks: Overview principles of terrain modeling and contour mapping. Discuss data types used for such mapping, including DEMs available from the USGS. Experiment with methods of contouring and rendering relief.


April 13: Project Planning and System Design.

Topics and tasks: Consider the human dimension in developing and implementing information technologies like GIS. Examine steps in project lifecycle. Consider how project lifecycle applies to final projects. Develop a plan and begin to gaterh materials for project. Begin final project.


Supplemental Reading:

April 20: 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. Continue work on final projects.


April 27: Trends in GIS Technologies.

Topics and tasks: Consider current trends in hardware and software. Examine close connections now emerging between GIS and other information technologies. Continue work on final projects.

May 4: Presentation of Final Projects.

May 15 (Friday): Final Projects On-line and Documented by 12:00 Noon.


One third of your final grade will be based on the Machine Space project. One third will be based on the final, independent project. The final third will be based on four warmup exercises (1. Your Village; 2. Favorite Place; 3. Greytown rendering and animation; 4. Contour and shaded relief maps) and two short in-class quizzes. 


Bonnici, Anthony M .  1997.  Mapping with Microstation 95.  Volume I: Foundation.   Peterborough, Canada: GeoData Solutions.  URL:, e-mail:

Last revised 31 January 1998. KEF.