Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been used in three Civil Engineering Courses this year at the University of Detroit Mercy. GIS is a mapping and database tool that allows designers to see patterns in geographic data. Only a few other Universities have any instruction in GIS at the undergraduate level. In a surveying course GIS has been used for mapping city utilities, viewing global positioning data, and creating planned highway profiles. In a transportation course GIS has been used to study accident data and make suggested improvements at dangerous intersections. In a hydrology course GIS has been used to calculate flood plain runoffs. The potential exists to use GIS on more projects in these and other courses. For example, it could be used in an environmental pollution course to locate populations that would be effected by the release of toxic chemicals. Similarly, GIS can be used in a transportation course make airport noise abatement plans. Development of this curriculum has created challenges in bringing technology to the classroom. Extensive examples have been developed by bringing together data from various governmental and private sources. Teaching GIS has had the challenge of instructing the students in a difficult software program.
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