In the fall of 2010, I asked for volunteers in my biology 140 class at Western Carolina University to help with a campus mapping project using cameras suspended from a balloon. I was very clear on the terms: the students were volunteering, could not be paid, and could not receive any academic credit for their efforts. I had no budget for the project, but was able to purchase materials thanks to the Program for the Study of Developed Shoreline, where I work. I was excited to find 8 very interested and motivated students who each devoted at least 6 hours to the project – their names are below.
My coworker, Katie McDowell, and I did a test flight to make sure our system worked well, which it did. The students and I collected imagery in the afternoons on two Fridays in October, a great time of year here in the southeast due to the fall colors. There is quite a bit of construction on our campus, which will be nice to track in successive years as the project continues.
Rachel Phipps chose to receive honors credit for her role in the project and got quite skilled at stitching images together in Adobe Photoshop. Her work is impressive, considering she had no prior Photoshop skills, and led to a very nice poster presentation at out university’s Undergraduate Research Expo in the spring of 2011.
With all of the imagery collected, our office was able to sponsor Stewart Long to train me in his Photoshop and GDAL methods and he created a stunning map of our campus as a product. At 7 cm resolution, our university print shop tells me the map could be printed at 72 dpi and be about 38 feet long.
Student Volunteers: Caitlin Atkinson Arthur Bien Jason Bock A.C. Courtney Katherine Eagle Aundrea Miller Rachel Phipps Will Roberts