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GIS & Remote Sensing Labs

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing at ISU

The Department of Earth & Environmental Systems is home to ISU’s spatial analysis software and expertise. In cooperation with the Office of Information Technology (OIT), we maintain site licenses for ESRI’s ArcGIS software suite, complete with unlimited site licenses for academic units, staff, faculty, and students.

What is GIS?


Geographic Information Systems is really the spatial data (often in the form of vector or image data), software tools, and expertise in management and analysis. GIS allows us to ask and answer questions, visualize data, and interpret results in an interactive computer environment. Applications of GIS vary quite a bit, but the goal is usually to understand spatial relationships between entities/features, trends, and patterns. GIS has an application in almost every discipline!

What GIS/Remote Sensing Courses are Offered at ISU?

In the Department of Earth & Environmental Systems we regularly offer 4 undergraduate courses and 3 graduate courses in GIS:

  • ENVI212 – Intro to GIScience (Aldrich, Obermeyer)
  • ENVI342 – Intro to Geograhpic Infromation Systems (Obermeyer, Aldrich)
  • ENVI401 – GIS: Applications (Aldrich, Obermeyer)
  • ENVI402 – Geoprocessing (Aldrich)
  • ENVI501 – GIS: Applications [Graduate-level] (Aldrich, Obermeyer)
  • ENVI502 – Geoprocessing [Graduate-level] (Aldrich)
  • GEOG665 – GIS/Remote Sensing: Computer Assisted Techniques [ONLINE] (Aldrich)

We also offer a robust curriculum in Remote Sensing:

  • ENVI115 – Earth from Space (Weng)
  • ENVI 405 - Fundamentals of Remote Sensing (Berta)
  • ENVI 406 - Remote Sensing: Image Development and Interpretation (Berta, Weng)
  • ENVI 407 - Remote Sensing: Digital Analysis of Spectral Data (Weng)
  • ENVI 408 - Remote Sensing: Digital Analysis (Weng)
  • ENVI 505 - Fundamentals of Remote Sensing [Graduate-level] (Berta)
  • ENVI 506 - Remote Sensing: Image Development and Interpretation [Graduate-level] (Berta, Weng)
  • ENVI 507 - Remote Sensing: Digital Analysis of Spectral Data [Graduate-level] (Weng)
  • ENVI 508 - Remote Sensing: Digital Analysis [Graduate-level] (Weng)

In addition, ESRI offers site-license institutions access to their catalog of self-guided online trainings, which can be a great way for ISU Community Members to gain GIS (and Remote Sensing) skills on their own time. A list of trainings is available: If you would like to complete one (or more) trainings, please contact Dr. Steve Aldrich indicating your affiliation with ISU and a list of ESRI training courses you would like to have access to.

How can I get access to the Software?

ArcGIS is available for ISU Staff, Students, and Faculty.

Faculty and Staff should use the ISU App Catalog ( or the ISU Software Downloads site ( to get access to the software. OIT can also assist in installing ArcGIS. These installation options work for on-campus use, and for off-campus use will require connection through ISU’s VPN ( For off-campus use by Faculty or Staff (but NOT students), please contact Dr. Steve Aldrich. NOTE: Faculty and Staff may only install the software on their ISU-owned workstations.

Students must install the software from the ISU Software Downloads site ( and acquire a one-year registration code and installation instructions from their faculty member. Alternatively, they can acquire a registration code from their instructor and bring it to the OIT Technology Assistance Group (TAG) in the basement of Stalker Hall for help in installing the software. If you are an ISU undergraduate but not taking a GIS class you may request a registration code from Dr. Steve Aldrich. Please include information about your major department, intended use, and how you learned about GIS at ISU in your request e-mail.

What are the System Requirements for GIS Software?

GIS requires somewhat more system resources than some machines have. For a full list of system specifications, please see:

What Remote Sensing Software is Available?

The Department of Earth & Environmental Systems also has teaching computer-lab access to Erdas Imagine and ENVI/IDL+, two of the leading remote sensing software packages. Faculty and Staff requiring access to these software packages should contact Dr. Steve Aldrich directly to discuss how this may be possible.

Department of Earth and Environmental Systems