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The GIS Center conducts Geographic Information Systems training, outreach, and research. Our training venues and customized manuals foster a highly-skilled, multidisciplinary geospatial workforce. Our community outreach and research help Wisconsin citizens and communities confront various types of geospatial challenges. 

What is GIS?

Our personal and professional lives are permeated with spatial information or information about places. Geographic Information Systems or GIS uses computer hardware and software to collect, maintain, analyze, visualize, and communicate spatial information. GIS is the modern day computerized map. Like a map, GIS is used to visualize objects, events, and phenomena that are located at or near Earth’s surface. GIS helps humans navigate their surroundings. Unlike hardcopy maps, a modern GIS stores, retrieves, analyzes, and data about our world using desktop and cloud computing. GIS helps humans better understand and interact with the world around them.

Information about places, or geographic information, permeates our lives every day. The six o-clock news uses maps to exhibit today’s headlines. Our children take a safe route to school. We plan out our next vacation. A medical doctor identifies the source of West Nile Virus. A 911 operator dispatches an ambulance and fire trucks to a fire. Name any activity, object or event, no matter how simple or complex, and you will find that they are connected to a geographic location. A commonly accepted estimate is that 80 percent of all information has a spatial or place-based component.

Student Map Competition

Grades 4-12 Competition

Submit Now!

The ArcGIS Online Competition is open to high school (“HS,” gr.9-12) and middle school (“MS,” gr.4-8) students in participating states in the U.S. who can gather, create, analyze, interpret, and present data via an ArcGIS StoryMap.

Timeline for 2024 Competition:

  • Mon. May 13, 2024: Deadline for states to submit entries to Esri
  • Tues. May 28, 2024: Esri announces 2024 results
  • Thur. June 20, 2024: Competition Results Webinar

GIS Center Services

Grant Writing and Collaboration

Do you need to integrate GIS, GPS, mapping, or remote sensing into a grant proposal?  Work with GIS Center faculty to help you with grant writing and integrating GIS into your project.


Map Design and Production

GIS Center faculty and students can help you design maps for production.


Database Design and Collection

GIS Center faculty and students can help you represent and model the real world using digital data.  Our services include database schema design and data collection, including field mapping, and public survey implementation.


Analysis and Modeling

Analyze and evaluate your project with the right metrics. Compare before and after. Measure change. Model future outcomes.

E2C3 Initiative

Engagement and Empowerment for Citizen Community Collaboration

The E2C3 Initiative engages and empowers communities with citizen collaboration using geospatial technologies. Work with GIS Center faculty and students to empower the community to solve projects important to local citizens.


Training and More!

  • GIS Center faculty and students prepare customized training, presentations, and manuals to foster a highly skilled, multidisciplinary workforce.
  • Access curated hardcopy map collections.
  • Assistance with digital map collections and data searches.
  • Map printing and scanning hardcopy maps.
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You will have access to state-of-the-art computer equipment for the facilitation of map production and geographic analyses. Our students are trained in the field with weather and climate studies, submeter GPS data collection, large scale urban mapping, and much more.

The GIS/Remote Sensing Laboratory and Classroom Complex are located in B-308 and B-312 and are used for GIS, cartographic, and remote sensing analysis. The B308 is equipped with 30 teaching workstations.

The Maurice E. Perret Map Center, located in Room B304 of the Science Building, is administrated by the Department of Geography and Geology and is open to use by the university faculty and staff, as well as by the public. Access curated hardcopy map collections.  Scan hardcopy maps for personal use.  Peruse the digital geographic data collections, with assistance from Geography and Geology students.

The GIS Center is located in Room B304 of the Science Building and is administered by the Department of Geography and Geology.  GIS Center faculty, staff, and students are eager to collaborate on community projects that require mapping, database design, data collection, or evaluation.  The GIS Center also conducts customized GIS training

Faculty and Staff

Doug Miskowiak

  • GIS Instructional Administrator
  • Geography and Geology Chair

Eric Larsen

  • Professor

Keith Rice

  • Emeritus Professor/Founding Director