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UMPI hosts dedication of new GIS lab

The University of Maine at Presque Isle hosted a dedication ceremony for its new GIS laboratory, the Geospatial Information Technology Center, during World GIS Day on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009.

The GITeC lab, a GIS and GPS laboratory, will be used for classroom instruction and community training and services. Earlier this summer, the University received a $96,800 Maine Technology Asset Fund grant from the Maine Technology Institute to fund the purchase of cutting edge equipment to establish a state-of-the-art lab facility on campus. The grant was one of only 16 awarded on a competitive basis from 49 applications from companies, universities and nonprofit research institutions across Maine.

The dedication – which was held immediately following a GPS workshop in the new lab, located in 201 Folsom Hall – was attended by about 50 people. The event included remarks by President Don Zillman and Betsy Biemann, President of the Maine Technology Institute.

“We are so pleased to be dedicating this facility – and using it for educational and training purposes by hosting a GPS workshop – all on World GIS Day,” President Don Zillman said. “This new laboratory is going to allow the University of Maine at Presque Isle to offer one-of-a-kind training opportunities for community officials who want to learn more about GIS and GPS technologies, provide our students with wonderful hands-on learning experiences, and help to impact the region’s economic and community development.”

GIS [Geographic Information Systems] is an information system that captures, stores, analyzes, and displays geographic information. It can be used for natural resource management, community and urban management, environmental management, wildlife management, tourism and recreation management, marketing, criminal data mapping, public health and social services, forestry, agriculture, and land use planning. GPS, which stands for Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system that can be used to calculate a precise location anywhere in the world.

Under the direction of Dr. Chunzeng Wang, the new Geospatial Information Technology Center will collaborate with community partners consisting of major cities, towns, native tribes, and non-profit organizations in central and southern Aroostook County to develop GIS databases that allow communities to do a wide range of activities, including inventorying and marketing their assets, maximizing planning and development of natural resources, attracting and retaining businesses, and managing infrastructure for municipal growth. The center will continue the work Dr. Wang has led in the last three years to partner with communities in developing specialized GIS projects. The center will also provide community training and technical service to its community partners.

The dedication event culminated in a ribbon cutting led by President Zillman, Biemann, and Dr. Wang.

For more information about the GIS lab, contact Dr. Chunzeng Wang at or call 768-9412.