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Cayuga Community College and geospatial institute receives an international award for GIS programs

DATE: 07-26-2011

Cayuga Community College and the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology (IAGT) received a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award at the Esri International User Conference (Esri UC) in San Diego, California, on July 13, 2011. This award acknowledges vision, leadership, hard work, and innovative use of Esri's geographic information system (GIS) technology.

This year, Esri acknowledged the achievements of more than 140 domestic and international organizations. Cayuga Community College and IAGT were one of only seven K-12 institutions or universities and community colleges recognized. Organizations from around the world honored at the Esri UC, span industries including agriculture, cartography, climate change, defense and intelligence, economic development, education, government, health and human services, telecommunications, and utilities.

"The SAG Awards highlight extraordinary achievements and efforts to improve our world," said Esri President Jack Dangermond. "Each year I look forward to being part of this ceremony. It is a tradition that means a great deal to Esri and to GIS professionals."

The Cayuga delegation included professors Abu Badruddin (GIS), Sue Gilmore (Microbiology), Tom Paczkowski (Business),and Amy Valente (Business); Anne Herron, vice president of academic and student affairs and dean of the faculty; and Amy Work, the education coordinator for IAGT. In addition to accepting the award, the delegates also attended the Esri User’s Conference, which draws more than 14,000 people from around the world.

“This was a tremendous trip on several levels,” Herron said. “This award shines the spotlight on Cayuga’s world-class resources and programs in GIS technologies, and the conference was truly engaging and informative. We heard from a range of experts about how GIS is helping to address critical world-wide problems.”

“Receiving this award from the leading GIS software company in the world is an incredible honor," Work said. "It demonstrates that the work the College and IAGT have partnered on over the past several years is truly helping to make a difference in the world by educating others and providing them with the tools and resources to also help make a change in the world. “

In 2001, Cayuga Community College welcomed the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology to its campus. A non-profit organization, IAGT helps others realize the benefits of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) through education, outreach, and innovative applications, including water resource management and climate change. The goal of this partnership is to increase critical thinking among students by working with educators to integrate GIS into classrooms.

The institute partnered with Cayuga to help establish the A.S. in Geographic Information Systems, the first GIS program at a community college. Students have the opportunity to interact with technology and professionals at the forefront of the field, which investigates such topics as remote sensing, aerial photogrammetry, spatial modeling, and global positioning systems.

Through the partnership with IAGT, students also have the opportunity to engage in hands-on research projects that might range from analyzing how populations, changes in land cover, and the introduction of invasive aquatic species influence and alter water resources in the Finger Lakes region to understanding how organizations investigate the impacts of  global climate change in Panama and the Mesoamerican region.

To increase awareness of the power of GIS to solve problems, the institute placed GIS technology into the hands of K-12 students by working with more than 525 teachers to use the technologies in the classroom through the annual Teaching with Spatial Technology (TwiST) Workshop. The institute also partnered with Cayuga faculty to integrate the technologies into their courses. Some of these projects included:

  • Microbiology students testing for the presence of two water borne disease carried by animals
  • Criminal justice students using GIS to map graffiti across Auburn and help police identify the “hot spots” of crime
  • Literature students exploring London through hand-held devises that navigate the city while providing access to classic literature pieces
  • Art students using a GPS unit as a drawing utensil and a football field as their canvas to test the students’ spatial perceptions and ability to scale a design
  • Geography students working to identify the presence or absence of the Asian Clam, an invasive species that threatens to significantly alter the ecosystem of Owasco Lake if not eradicated or controlled.

For more information about the 2011 Special Achievement in GIS Award winners, including project information and photos, please visit

For more information on Cayuga’s GIS program, visit

To learn more about IAGT, visit