GIS Goes Far Beyond Geography at Texas A&M
Feb 26, 2016
From its humble beginnings, GIS at TAMU has grown to support research in virtually every college and agency at the university.
Deep in the heart of Texas lies Texas A&M University (TAMU), known to generations of former students as Aggieland.
Founded in 1876, TAMU was the first public university in Texas and is now one of the largest research universities in the United States, with more than 58,000 students, including nearly 14,000 graduate students. It was one of the first US universities to hold the triple distinction of being a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution, meaning it does leading research in all three domains. Thus, it is prime breeding ground for GIS.
The Organic Growth of GIS
During the 1980s, GIS research developed organically across TAMU. Professors in several departments—including landscape architecture, entomology, parks and recreation, forest science, and geosciences—used the emerging technology to support their diverse research needs.
Due to the high costs of computers at the time, TAMU began GIS instruction in 1985 only in the forest science department after PhD student (and now associate professor) Douglas Wunneburger developed microGIS. This homegrown program ran on 20 Tandy 2000 personal computers in the university’s then state-of-the- art computer lab.