Within the Perkins IV grant proposal for 2010-2011 I included increasing faculty and student exposure regarding Geographical Information Systems. One of the leading software providers is ESRI. I have taken some classes with ESRI but I decided to take an online course at Penn State in fall 2010.
I took GEOG 483, Problem Solving with GIS, in the fall semester of 2010 at Penn State University’s World Campus. I enjoyed the course very much. It integrated my initial knowledge of ESRI’s ArcGIS software and broadened it. I was introduced to numerous tools within the software as well as fulfilling criterion for various “real world” objectives. I enjoyed the last two maps that we had to create since it synthesized the procedures, tools and decision making skills that we have learned throughout the course.
The goal of this map was to find suitable vineyard sites in an area of Napa County that adhered to the following criterion: located outside the floodplain and more than 100 meters from a stream, agricultural or undeveloped land, Slope orientation between 112 – 337 degrees, average max wind speed less than 25 mph, average minimum temperature greater than 35 degrees, soil depth between 31 and 72 inches, medium to highly drained soil. The final sites have the above criterion and must be located on private lands.
The creation of the above map taught me the difference between vector and raster data. I had to convert all the vector to raster data in addition to adhering to the criterion above. I utilized a number of tools within the ArcToolbox such as dissolve, interpolation, hillshade and reclassification. It was great to create the final map on the left with the overview map showing the private vs. the public lands, the dark yellow is the private land. We were also taught the colors that work best for viewing on printed maps and on lcd displays. I thought the layout was simple but purposeful.
The map to the left was created for my final project. It is a map of Centre County, PA, the focus was to select conservation areas based on data from a local university. The criterion that we had to meet were the following: greater than 70 bird and mammalian species combined, less than 10% of each study area occupied by buffered roads, highways, and interstates, high habitat potential, publicly owned land, forested areas and slope of less than 10%. The most difficult part of the exercise was to figure out the percent road areas associated with each study area which was identified when I submitted a workflow to complete this assignment. After I received the instructor approved workflow I was able to perform a query on the union of buffered roads and study areas and appropriate calculations that met the roads criteria.
Upon completing the exercise I thought there would be more candidate reserve areas than were displayed. I found that most of the candidate reserve areas correlated closely to the roads criteria and the publicly owned lands. I included an overview map of the ownership of publicly owned lands to show this correlation. I liked this exercise because it combined many skills that I learned in this course. I was able to make decisions and navigate the software easily because of the numerous exercises that we completed in the course.

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