2013 Fall Regular Meeting Minutes

As always, thanks to Dee for recording the minutes.  We will not read these at the meeting.  Please submit changes now in the comment form below, or come prepared with comments at the meeting.  There will be opportunity at the meeting to discuss the minutes prior to approving them.

These minutes are for the meeting with this agenda:

2013 Fall Regular Meeting Agenda

Executive Meeting
AAC Board
October 4, 2013
12:30 a.m.
Blucher 104 Multi-Purpose Room

Attendees:  William Bernsen, Bradi Lowe, Noela Garza, Keith McNease ,  Mike Beavers, Sonia Gover, Dr. Gary Jeffress, Dr. Ruizhi Chen, Dr. Richard Smith, Dr. Lucy Huang, Dr. Michael Starek, Dr. Peter Kuntu-Mensah, Ms. Seneca Holland, A. J. Shook, Paul VanOldenmark, and Dee Edgar, Recording Secretary

By Phone:  Brian Autio, Stephen Blaskey

Absent: Ken Gold , Dan Stone , Sheila Steffenson, Davey Edwards, Michael Parma

Meeting was called to order at 12:30 by William (Billy) Bernsen.  Quorum declared.

Introductions were made.

There was call for unfinished business; there was none.

It was moved by Brian Autio to approve the previous minutes as posted on the web, was seconded by Noela Garza and approved.

Member Reappointments – Tim Alford has resigned but there are still currently 13 people on the Academic Advising Board.  Ken Gold, Noela Garza and Davey Edwards were reappointed by the Chair by unanimous consent for a new term of 3 years to end Spring of 2016 (see bottom of agenda).

GISSO Report – A. J. Shook, President of GISSO reported that the students have two questions they would like answers to.

1.    Why are the GIS and Surveying Courses now joined as one?

Dr. Jeffress responded that the basic tenant is economics.  It is now required by the University to have a minimum of 10 students per course.  What was happening was that most all freshmen enter stating their desire to go into GIS.  About their Junior year most change over to Geomatics and that leaves the GIS courses without enough students to offer the courses the remaining students need to graduate.  Also to consistently be able to offer all courses each academic year this helps to meet that minimum number.

2.    Why are undergrads not required to take Linear Algebra?

Dr. Jeffress explained that in recent years the Coordinating Board wanted all 4-year bachelor degrees to lower their credit hours to 120 for graduation.  After we tried this for one year, the AAC and ABET felt we were not giving enough content so we increased the credit hours to 130 for graduation.  Linear Algebra is offered as part of Comps & Adjustments and the faculty asked Mr. Shook to find out if the students who were asking had reached the level to have this course.  It was mentioned that any student can take Linear Algebra if they so choose.

Activities of GISSO – The SIT Prep course will be offered on October 19, 2013.  This event funds the students travel to TSPS being held this year in Arlington, TX.  Sixteen students are planning to attend.   The SIT Prep course will also be held in the Spring as well.  These two events are the major fundraising for the year.  The students will also participate in GIS Day where they actually set up total stations and do geo-caching for approximately 1200 high school students.

GIS Program Report – Dr. Jeffress reported that we have had a really good Fall with enrollment reaching 84 undergrads, which is a 10.5% increase and 38 Graduates, which is a 18.75% increase over last year.  We also have 8 students enrolled in the BAAS degree and 3 Certificate seeking students.   He said this has been due to Dr. Rick Smith, Seneca Holland, and many of our students attending all the summer student orientations and seeking out students who were undecided about their degree.  Also reported was that 17 transfer students came into our program which is the largest number ever.

Dr. Jeffress gave an update on how courses were covered in the loss of Dr. Stacey Lyle who went to work for BP.  Dr. Ruizhi Chen, Blucher Endowed Chair, covered the Satellite Positioning course, Dr. Mike Starek taught Remote Sensing, Dr. Jeffress covered the master’s course on Policy & Legal Aspects of Spatial Info Systems, Peter Kuntu-Mensah moved over to cover more of the surveying courses, and Dr. Lyle continued one of his online graduate courses to finish out the academic year.  Dr. Lyle is currently no longer employed at the University due to his new job and busy work schedule.  Ms. Jamie Pyle and Mr. Don Mulcare, both former instructors from industry, have moved on and decided not to continue teaching.

Our program has also been designated as and ESRI Development Center.  There are only 34 universities world-wide and we are one of them.  During our ABET site visit the evaluators were impressed with our relationship with ESRI and their software products as well as with Surveyors who are working in industry.

The new PhD in Geospatial Computing Sciences has been approved by the Board of Regents and is now at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for review.  When this is approved, our campus will be the first in the United States to have such a program.

Dr. Ruizhi Chen has also set up a Geospatial Computing Lab and Dr. Philippe Tissot, Associate Director of the Blucher Institute has set up a Coastal Dynamics Lab studying the effects of storms on the Coastal area.  Both of these labs will be research facilities where master students and PhD students will be involved.

Dr. Jeffress then gave a handout to attendees written by Dr. James A. Elithorp Jr describing the handling of online courses for surveying students.   Dr. Elithorp runs the program at Great Basin College in Nevada.  Much discussion was held.  Dr. Jeffress said he leans toward having surveyors in the area where the student is located be asked to supervise the weekly labs.  The suggestion was made by Keith McNease to contact the TSPS and get them involved.  The question was raised as to what the surveyor could gain from this experience since it will be teaching the students for no merit to the surveyor.  It was suggested that Dr. Jeffress reach out to the Education Committee of TSPS and see if CEU’s could be offered for this type of teaching situation.  Dr. Jeffress will follow up on that suggestion.  Mike Beavers offered to make a web interface to let students where surveyors are available.

A MOTION was made by Noela Garza to approve for implementation the plan to administer labs for online courses, as discussed, for the GISC online program to begin in Fall 2014.  SECOND by Brandi Lowe.  Motion carried unanimously.

Dr. Jeffress also told the AAC our first 5 year student, Thomas Davis, has a Department of Defense scholarship which covers all tuition, a monthly stipend, a living allowance and an Internship over the summer with the Army Corp of Engineering in New Orleans, La.   One of the tasks the Corp wants Thomas to look into is using an unmanned aircraft which can take high resolution pictures of coastal areas.  Using a program here on campus called ELITE, he has been able to secure the funding for a trip to Tampa, Florida for the GEOINT Conference and for the purchase of a eBee UAV system.  He intends to use this as part of his thesis.    TAMUCC  is a finalist for a FAA Center for Unmanned Aircraft, which, if secured, will help develop policies concerning the regulations of flying these aircraft.  The Geospatial PhD program will play a large part in this area as well.

Dr. Ruizhi Chen stated that TAMUCC will be hosting an International Conference in November, 2014.  He will send the flyer to Dee Edgar and she will send to Billy Bernsen so it can be posted on the AAC website.

Thanks were given to all for attending.  Meeting was adjourned at 1:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Dee Edgar, Recording Secretary

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