Intermediate Geographic Information Systems
Department of Geography-Earth Science
Shippensburg University


GIS is a STEM discipline. The purpose of GIS2 is to help students to learn how to think spatially and develop practical skills using geospatial data and technology. Concepts covered during GIS I, including the nature of data, data models, geodesy, map projections and coordinate systems, will be revisited in greater detail. New topics will include sampling, spatial estimation, map algebra, terrain modeling, digital aerial photography, and spatial analysis. Skill development will focus on geospatial data collection methods, data processing methods, project management, and using spatial logic to answer geographic questions. GIS II serves as one of six courses that can be used to satisfy the elective requirement of the undergraduate GIS Letter of Program and it is a required course for Geography/GIS track majors.


Weekly calendars

In-class exercises

A lightweight framework for visualizing some common projection methods.

National Geodetic Survey Data Explorer
A visual way to explore our national spatial reference system.

GIS2_inClass_Geodesy (2 MB)
Introduction to geodesy and geographic referencing systems.

Video: Minute Physics' "What is Sea Level?"

Video: Tom Scott's "Why the Prime Meridian [for the US] doesn't coincide with 0ยบ E/W [in the UK]."

GIS2_DataModelGeomteryConversions.pdf (400 KB)
Data models, geometries, and tools that make conversions among them. (33 MB)
Learning how to calculate derivative surfaces via terrain analysis.

GIS2_inClass_terrainData2014.xls (106 KB)
Creating spatial point features in a GIS from a table, Part II. (128 KB)
Creating spatial point features in a GIS from a table, Part I. (124 MB)
Common data and document formats used with ArcGIS for Desktop.

Esri story map of Hurricane Harvey imagery
Esri and GeoCorps have been mapping the disaster in Texas. (< 1 MB)
A GIS for us.

mapMtStHelens.kmz (< 1 MB)
Interactive topographic map of the Mt. St. Helens volcanic blast area.

Lab assignments

The Chimney Tops 2 Fire project

This GIS project offers you a complete hands-on learning experience. It will expose you to the entire workflow that a seasoned GIS Analyst would use during the hours and days following a major disaster.

Getting started & establishing a sense of place
Lab 5 and

Video: Chalet Village Fire Gatlinburg, by Michael Luciano

Video: Drone view of the wildfire devastation, by Hytek Media And Photography

Projecting geographic features onto commonly used planar mapping systems and seeing what happens.

Lab 4 handout , Lab 4 worksheet , and (15MB)
This lab is designed to help you learn to use geographic coordinates (by doing, visualizing, and calculating) and to learn how different projection methods emplace different distortion patterns among projected shapes. Key take-home message - map projection methods are customized for projecting data inside specific mapping zones. Yes, each method might be able to project data outside of the intended zone, but it wasn't designed with those locations in mind.

Terrain analysis

Lab 3 and (9 MB)
The purpose of this lab is to help you learn how to conduct terrain analysis, a type of raster analysis that relies heavily on a DEM and outputs derivative surfaces. Here's an example. This lab will also introduce you to cartographic models, which illustrate GIS workflows. Video 1 below let you learn about both the physical and human components of this disaster. There's on-the-ground footage, background, and interviews. Video 2 was produced a few years later and provides geologists and geomorpologists with a brief but technical description of the landslide. Both videos highlight the LiDAR-derived DEM we're using to learn how perform terrain analysis.

Video 1: Killer Landslides [Documentary for the public, 53 min]

Video 2: Anatomy of a Landslide [Professional summary, 5 min]

The Sand Table Project

Labs 01 and 02 and (1MB)
This hands-on learning experience is designed to help you plan to take a set of spatial observations, build spatial datasets, and build a representative topographic map (example) of the landscape.



Scott A. Drzyzga, Ph.D., GISP
Department of Geography-Earth Science
Center for Land Use & Sustainability
Shippensburg University
Shippensburg, PA 17257

CV: current