GEOG 485:
GIS Programming and Automation

Instructor Information

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Fall-2 2017 (October - December) - Jim Detwiler

Fall-1 2017 (August-October) - James O'Brien


Instructor for Fall-2 2017 (October - December)

Jim Detwiler

2217 EES Building
The Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: (814) 865-2932 (The country code for the United States is 1)
FAX: (814) 863-1564 (The country code for the United States is 1)

AVAILABILITY: Students are welcome to contact me by email anytime; I am usually able to respond within 24 hours.  If you are a student registered for the course, please use the ANGEL e-mail system for course-related correspondence, as I prefer to keep those messages separated from my other e-mail.  I am also happy to speak to students over the phone, though it is best to set up an appointment for a phone call.

Welcome to the course!

Jim Detwiler
Jim Detwiler

Hi, I'm Jim Detwiler, your instructor for the next ten weeks. I've been an instructor in the Geography Department's online GIS program since 2000. Back then, we had just a one-year, non-credit certificate program with few electives. Today, we offer a Master of GIS degree with numerous electives that enable students to focus on application areas of interest to them. I'm very proud to be associated with this program, both in terms of the faculty involved and the adult professionals who enroll in it.

Since joining the online geospatial program, I have authored and taught GEOG 485: GIS Programming and Customization (a VBA/ArcObjects course that's now retired), GEOG 489: GIS Application Development, GEOG 863: GIS Mashups and GEOG 897D: Spatial Database Management, first offered in 2002, 2005, 2008, and 2012, respectively. I've also taught sections of Programming and Customization and Mashups to undergraduates in residence since fall 2003.

My experience with GIS includes working on population-related research projects at Penn State's Population Research Institute, on E911 and cadastral projects at the Chester County (PA) Bureau of Land Records, and on climate-related projects at the University of Delaware. I think this broad experience helps me to relate to my students who use the technology in a wide array of contexts.

I look forward to getting to know you over the next ten weeks and helping you to learn the course material.

Best of luck in the course!

Introductions for Fall 2

Now it’s your turn to introduce yourself (you don't have to post pictures!). Please return to Canvas and post a brief introductory message to "The Lounge" discussion forum describing:

  • Your name and current occupation
  • Any experience with Python (remember, none is required for this course)
  • Any experience with other programming languages (none is required for this course)
  • Any questions or concerns you have about Python or this course (optional)

Instructor for Fall-1 2017 (August-October)

James O'Brien

Teaching Assistants: Three very talented teaching assistants, and former students will be assisting with the grading of your assignments (A grader will be assigned to you during the first teaching week once enrollments are finalised).

Email: Please use the course e-mail system (it ensures your emails don't get caught up in any spam filters). I check e-mail regularly and will do my best to respond to questions at least once per weekday and once on weekends unless I notify you otherwise. If ANGEL is down you can try jameso@psu.edu.

Office hours: By appointment.

James O'Brien
James O'Brien

I got involved in GIS in 1993 but via a slightly different path perhaps to most people. A year earlier I'd been introduced to GIS at a university promotional event where it was described as "Computing and Environmental Studies." Intrigued at how the two could be combined, I went along, listened, liked what I heard and selected GIS as my undergraduate degree.

That degree, combining GIS with a solid background in Computing Science, led to me being employed as a computer programmer, hardware technician, cartographer and a few other things along the way. I obtained a PhD at Penn State (01-04), and followed that up with a year in Australia doing financial management before returning to Penn State for a one year Post Doc working on the final year of the Human Environment Regional Observatory project(http://hero.geog.psu.edu/index.jsp). At the conclusion of that project I moved to Kingston University in London, UK as a Senior Lecturer in GIS and then as a Principal Lecturer teaching ArcGIS customisation, spatial databases, GIS & Hazards, Mobile GIS and Geoweb Development (which uses ArcGIS Server), Project Management and a few other things. After 4.5 years doing that, I was enticed back to Australia to join the Risk Frontiers research centre at Macquarie University where I work as part of a team using GIS (and a range of other tools) to model the spatial distribution of natural hazards (and their associated losses) like fire, flood, earthquake, and cyclone (hurricane) for insurance companies. As the Chief Geospatial Scientist I spend a lot of my days designing and building spatial tools for analysis particularly using Python but also a range of other languages. I'm based in Sydney, but don't let the 12(ish) hour time difference to the East Coast of the US concern you; I'm getting up when the majority of you will be starting work on the class :) This will be my 21st time teaching Geog 485, and as always, I'm really looking forward to it.

You

Now it’s your turn to introduce yourself (you don't have to post pictures!). Please return to Canvas and post a brief introductory message to "The Lounge" discussion forum describing:

  • Your name and current occupation
  • Any experience with Python (remember, none is required for this course)
  • Any experience with other programming languages (none is required for this course)
  • Any questions or concerns you have about Python or this course (optional)