COSAM News Articles 2022 March City of Auburn and Auburn University collaborate to implement GIS advancements and applications through fellowship

City of Auburn and Auburn University collaborate to implement GIS advancements and applications through fellowship

Published: 03/08/2022

By: Maria Gebhardt

The City of Auburn and Auburn University are partnering together to create an annual fellowship to provide students with hands-on experience using practical skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The current student, Jacob Mayberry, has been expanding several advanced geospatial data models by leveraging multiple field collection products, remote sensing technology, and building information management systems to improve the city’s facility and asset management operations since he started the MS program in Geography in the fall of 2021.   

“Through this partnership between the City of Auburn and Auburn University, we can extend our capabilities and expand our abilities,” said Christopher Graff, deputy chief information officer for the City of Auburn.

This initiative provides a graduate student a paid stipend and tuition waiver to work throughout the semester with the municipality on many local applications implementing GIS to help the city manage its resources. 

“This unique opportunity offers real-world experience in a paid position working with GIS that applies directly to what the student learns in the classroom,” said Luke Marzen, professor in the Department of Geosciences at Auburn University. 

The city and university share resources including data, software programs, and hardware. A few examples include a ground-based laser scanner the university owns that can assist the city in producing very detailed and accurate 3D models, while the city has shared geospatial datasets it has collected such as high-resolution aerial imagery and airborne LiDAR that the fellowship students can use in their research.

“The City of Auburn is able to leverage emerging technologies and different perspectives to improve our services to its citizens,” Graff added.  

Auburn University, a land-grant institution with a Carnegie R1 classification, is ranked as a Top 50 Public University in the Nation according to U.S. News & World Report in 2021. The City of Auburn GIS program has been recognized by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and in 2021 the State of Alabama for innovation in the application of geospatial technology. 

The City of Auburn reported a population of 76,143 in the 2020 Census. It has received numerous accolades including in 2019 being named to the “Top 100 Places to Live in the U.S.” list by Money magazine and named the “13th Best Small Place for Business Careers in the U.S.” by Forbes. 

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