• May 10, 2018
    Drone class targets opportunity
    New course prepares students for FAA, certification, in-demand jobs

    Drone flyingCommercial drone use keeps climbing, and many companies are looking for candidates with the skills and certifications to take them to the next level. Central Michigan University is on a trajectory to help students fill that need. This year, Benjamin Heumann, a faculty member in geography and environmental studies, has designed and taught a new course, Drones: Theory, Application and Society, on regulations for drone use and opportunities for skilled pilots. "We are doing everything involved in drone operation except the actual flying," he said. "The goal is to prepare students to operate drones in the commercial environment and to think about them more professionally."

  • May 2, 2018
    Geography & Environmental Studies Club Cleans Up
    Geography & Environmental Studies ClubMembers of the Geography and Environmental Studies Club recently participated in the first annual ‘Hike the Chippewa and Help Clean it Up’ event. Club members hiked along the river through Mt. Pleasant city parks to pick up litter and learn the natural and cultural history of the Chippewa River.


  • April 18, 2018
    Fired Up and Focused
    Meet Grace Watylyk

    Grace Watylyk
    We only have one Earth, and Grace Watylyk plans on doing everything she can to help sustain it.

    "I am passionate about environmental studies because there are so many issues within the field that need to be addressed, from waste generation to water scarcity to habitat destruction," she said. "If we don't have a safe, clean place to live, we are all in big trouble."

    Grace, who came to CMU from Illinois, is pairing her environmental studies major with an outdoor and environmental education minor to best equip her to take on the world's environmental issues. 


  • March 1, 2018
    New Class at CMU Prepares Students for Careers as Commercial Drone Operators
    Ben Heumann with dronesMoviemaking, photo journalism, agriculture, construction, utilities, archeology, law enforcement…these are just a few of the industries relying more and more on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (U.A.S.’s or drones) to get the job done. “UAS is now a multi-billion dollar industry and continuing to grow rapidly”,” said Ben Heumann, assistant professor of Geography at Central Michigan University. Ben’s new class, “Drones!: Theory Application, and Society”, prepares students to take advantage of this growing field. From the physics of flight to crew management, issues of privacy and property rights to aeronautical regulations required by the Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.), this new class trains students to become commercial drone operators. They learn how to plan a flight, manage resources, assess risk, budgeting, crew management…everything needed to make the critical decisions required in this up and coming field. Upon finishing the class, these students will be prepared obtain the airmen certification required to become a licensed commercial drone pilot and incorporate these skills into their future careers.

  • February 15, 2018
    Geography Graduate's Thesis Gains Traction
    Little did Sam Lipsocomb, a CMU Geography graduate, know that when he submitted his thesis on “Lighting, Perceived Safety, and Access to Emergency Call Boxes on the CMU Campus” that his work would gain traction. ESRI (Environmental Systems Research Institute) took Lipsocomb’s work and developed an app that a group of students at California Polytechnic State University have been beta testing. Those students have now passed their recommendations on to ESRI and the security team at Cal Poly.

  • May 10, 2016
    Two Central Michigan University geography students bring home awards
    2 CMU Geography students brought home awards from this year's Improving Michigan's Access to Geographic Information Networks (IMAGIN) Student Poster & Paper Competition this past April. Geography Graduate Student Chris Hippensteel won first place in the graduate division with his paper "Digitizing Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands: A Case Study of GIS Integration" View his paper HERE.​ Alex Lynch won 1st place in the Best Analytic Presentation Category with his poster titled "Experimental Assessment of Supervised Algorithms to Classify Targeted Land-Cover Using Ultra-High Resolution Multispectral UAS Imagery". View his poster HERE. IMAGIN, a non-profit organization founded in 1993, provides opportunities for professionals using spatial resources in Michigan to network and share with other professionals.

  • May 10, 2016
    Matt Liesch named to Mt. Pleasant Planning Commission
    Liesch, an assistant professor in the Geography Department at CMU, has been a resident of Mt. Pleasant for almost five years.

  • February 24, 2016
    Inspiring students beyond the classroom
    CMU geography professor, Mark Francek, named top college science teacher in Michigan
    Carrying a globe around his classroom, Central Michigan University geography professor Mark Francek stops to spin it on the tip of his finger. Later, he climbs onto a table so every awe-struck student in the class can see a demonstration he has planned.

  • August 10, 2015
    Bay City's keeper of infrastructure records is creating a high-tech department
    Laura Anderson, CMU graduate, is setting the table for a more high-tech Bay City Public Works Department.

  • August 4, 2015
    Impact of inclusive field trips
    The geosciences benefit from diverse student perspectives and backgrounds, but the field-based learning requirements pose barriers to students with disabilities. If carefully designed, fieldwork can be made accessible while still meeting expectations of academic rigor.

  • April 10, 2015
    Two CMU Geographic Information Science students are on their way to this year's annual IMAGIN conference
    Each year, IMAGIN (Improving Michigan’s Access to Geographic Information Networks), recognizes outstanding utilization of GIS in Michigan with several awards. The awards are given to GIS users specialists and/or organizations that demonstrate how GIS can be used to make processes more efficient, increase awareness of spatial conditions, or improve services for those of us who live in Michigan. This year John Gross and Ryan Meier, both CMU GIS students studying with Dr. Benjamin Heumann, received honors in the IMAGIN Student ​Paper Competition. Gross was awarded 1st place for his paper titled “A Comparison of Orthomosaic Software for Use with Ultra High-Resolution Imagery of a Wetland Environment,” making this the 2nd year in a row that a CMU student has won 1st place. Meier took 2nd place for his paper titled “The Use of Affinity Propagation to Cluster Socioeconomic Census Data."​ Upon winning these honors, Gross and Meier earned invitations to present at this year’s IMAGIN conference this June in Traverse City. Read more about this year’s annual IMAGIN conference and the poster and paper competition

  • April 6, 2015
    GIS graduate student's work with Facilities Management earns praise at MiAPPA Conference
    CMU Center for Geographic Information Science graduate student, Emmett Mercier, has been working with Facilities Management at CMU on issues with the domestic water system on campus.

    It was this project that earned him recognition and congratulations at this year's Michigan Association of Physical Plant Administrators (MiAPPA) conference.

    It started roughly a year ago when a water main outside of Moore Hall burst. With no accurate record of the water system in that area, it took longer than expected to isolate the problem and cut off the flow of water to that section of pipe.

    That's when Facilities Management turned to the Center for Geographic Information Science at CMU for solutions.

    Emmett's idea was to create a Geographic Information Science system that would update all of the water system features and create an interactive flow model that could be used both in an office and in the field.

    When fully operational, Emmett's project will give managers, directors, and crews in the field online access to an updated, interactive mapping system that will better model, analyze, and troubleshoot the water network throughout campus.

    The system will:

    Allow a quick trace operation to be run once a water system issue is reported. Facilities Management can then quickly notify workers of the accurate location of the nearest values/infrastructure in order to more quickly address the issue, along with releasing a notification to the university and the city of temporary shutdowns on campus.
    Allow users to choose a point in the water network and show how to isolate and/or shut off the flow of water to that area.
    Allow for points to be placed on the network simulating new valves, allowing FM to see how changes to the network would affect the current setup.
    Make maps available that will allow workers and management to quickly view not only the spatial location of features throughout the system, but also view all associated attributes (e.g. date of last service, installation date, size of pipe) related to those features with a simple click.
    Assure that maps are kept in a constant up-to-date state, removing the need to reprint large map books as changes are made.

    Emmett's program will, "increase our confidence and assist in communicating the impact during utility showdowns; and will speed up our ability to respond to unplanned events," said Linda Slater, Director of Plant Engineering and Planning at CMU. "It will serve as a model for projects that can be done in the future on other CMU utilities."

  • January 30, 2014
    CMU advances Great Lakes research with unmanned helicopter, hyperspectral camera
    Central Michigan University has acquired the only unmanned aerial vehicle in Michigan that is equipped with a hyperspectral camera - a six-foot long helicopter - that will significantly advance research imaging of Great Lakes wetlands. The camera takes extremely high-resolution images in 334 colors compared to typical cameras that capture just three. Researchers will use the semi-autonomous helicopter, controlled via computer or by radio waves, to capture images of vegetation in wetlands throughout the Great Lakes basin. Their work will continue the fight against invasive species, protect rare plants and ultimately help to preserve and protect the world's largest supply of fresh water. "This allows us to determine where and when we collect the data instead of relying on archives from the federal government or commercial vendors," said Benjamin Heumann, director of CMU's Center for Geographic Information Science. The center conducts research locally, regionally and internationally on social and environmental issues that require spatial analysis. "We now have the technology to do more than anyone else in the state in geomapping and analysis of wetland ecosystems," Heumann said. "Using the hyperspectral camera, we have the capability to collect aerial imagery with far greater precision than manned aircraft and satellite." Now, instead of capturing an image that shows a tree, for example, the hyperspectral camera will show individual plant leaves throughout a wetland. The helicopter flies at about 10 miles an hour and to the height of a 40-story building. It is flown under Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. U​nmanned aerial vehicles historically have been used in law enforcement and the military, although there are many civilian applications as well. The technology also has applications in agriculture. Heumann recently spoke at the Michigan Advanced Aerial System Consortium about the potential use of UAVs for mapping disease, detecting weeds and monitoring fertilization and drought in the state's $5.72 billion field crops industry. "We can help farmers better forecast crop yields," Heumann said. "By mapping disease, we can pinpoint more precisely where to target the spraying of pesticides, reducing costs to farmers and health hazards to humans and the environment." Heumann and a team of graduate students will use the helicopter for the first time this spring to determine the biodiversity of a wetland area in Washtenaw County. The unmanned aerial vehicle and the hyperspectral camera were purchased by the College of Science and Technology at a cost of $140,000.