GEOG 469
Energy Industry Applications of GIS

Meet the Instructor


Welcome to GEOG 469!

Welcome to GEOG 469! My name is Ron Santini and I will be your instructor. I hope you find this semester to be challenging, rewarding, and fun. Though we will likely not communicate face-to-face, I am hoping to get to know each of you through our communications, discussion forums, emails, and telephone calls.

So, who am I? I am an instructor for the Penn State World Campus and come to the World Campus from a different path than your typical instructor. I worked for 30+ years in the environmental field, 18 with a major Southeastern United States energy utility. During my years at the utility, I was a project scientist and then a manager of a group of scientists and technicians responsible for the environmental assessment and monitoring of soil, surface water, and groundwater from utility discharges, waste ponds, ash basins, and landfills at fossil-, nuclear-, and hydroelectric-generating facilities. In addition, my team conducted environmental assessments for proposed overhead electric transmission lines, proposed generating facilities, and of contaminated legacy sites.

In 1994, I was part of an environmental exchange team that visited a nuclear-generating facility in Ukraine. The task of the team was to evaluate and make recommendations to the nuclear station management on how to improve station environmental protection programs.

I bring a unique online learning perspective to you. I was part of the first graduating class of the Geographic Information Systems Certificate Program offered through the Penn State World Campus. Having that under my belt, I enrolled in the online Master of Engineering in GIS program from the University of Colorado, Denver, and graduated in 2009. In addition, I hold a Master of Environmental Pollution Control degree, as well as a BS degree in biological health and an AAS. degree in business administration, all from Penn State. I am also a board-certified environmental professional, certified by the Academy of Board Certified Environmental Professionals.

I am excited for this semester and the ability to interact with each of you. I developed the course from scratch, digging deep into my experience in the electric utility industry along with the experience of other professionals, to bring you an understanding of the challenges of siting electric utility infrastructure as well as exposing you to GIS. Through additional instruction in using GIS and then applying that GIS knowledge to a real-world overhead electric utility siting problem, thanks to the folks at Photo Science, Inc., I am hoping you come away with a basic understanding of GIS and a deeper understanding of the challenges we face in the future in meeting our energy needs.

Again, welcome to GEOG 469! I hope you find the course challenging, practical, and fun, and that you leave with a new skill set you can use while pursuing your degree and in your professional career.

Click here for a transcript of Ron Santini's video introduction.

Hi! I’m Ron Santini and I came to teach at Penn State late in my career, after spending 30+ years in the energy industry. My last 20 years I was employed by Duke Energy Corporation as an environmental scientist and managed a team of scientists and technicians responsible for corporate environmental assessments and investigations. 

I am a graduate of Penn State and the University of Colorado with graduate degrees in Environmental Pollution Control and GIS. 

I’m married to my most patient wife, Mary, who is a microbiologist turned interior designer. 

I spend most of my free time as a freelance landscape, wildlife, and sports photographer. 

Some interesting facts about me include: I was a volunteer fireman in high school, I play basketball with many of the current NASCAR drivers, and I spent 6 weeks on a NOAA research vessel collecting water samples in the South Atlantic. – but, ah, only two of those are true!! 

Oh!, and one last thing. I teach Geography 469, Energy Applications of GIS taught during the Spring Semester.