The CGIS Center started as the Department of Geography’s Map Repository for United States topographic maps. Several times a year, USGS would send the newest editions of the large paper maps, which would get lovingly slipped into massive steel filing cabinets which filled the room from end to end. Upon his arrival as a faculty member, Dr. Christopher Brehme had it in mind how the space might better serve the needs of the faculty and students: a research facility. The inspiration came from his work in Maine as a collaborative researcher. He and his colleagues needed a centrally located place to work, share ideas, store data, and utilize advanced resources. He, together with others, obtained a National Science Foundation grant to fund a facility that would suit their needs. And thus, the seed had been planted.
Years later, the opportunity arose. Paper maps were going to the wayside and everything was moving into the digital age. Modelling what has been accomplished at other educational institutions, such as University of Southern Maine and Syracuse University, Dr. Brehme initiated inter-departmental research projects with both Dr. Nora Traviss, Dr. Renate Gebauer, and Dr. Denise Burchsted in the Environmental Studies Department. In a large-scale shift from filing cabinets to fully operational computer workstations, Dr. Gebauer donated six workstations through a Cargill Foundation fund. Since then, the CGIS Center has provided twelve computer workstations to faculty, students working on Seminar projects and internships, and several community projects related to GIS.
The future is bright; we are collaborating with many community organizations to develop long-range projects that students can get involved with during their time as an undergraduate- opportunities that many undergraduate institutions are not able to offer. Moreover, the CGIS Center is seeking to assist in the Department’s transition to focus more on sustainability, recreation, and digital spatial analysis: three major global topics.
We’re looking forward!