The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has sub-contracted with Marshall University’s Geography Department to employ student interns to convert paper mine maps to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database format.
The contract for the GeoMine project is actually a renewal of a previous contract that lasted from December 2011 to September 2012. The current contract, which provides an additional $129,000 in funding from the WVDEP, runs through December 2013.
“This is a feather in our cap,” said Dr. David Pittenger, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Our Department of Geography offers an outstanding education that allows students to learn both the political-economic-historical perspective of geography as well as the powerful tools used to create complex maps using GIS technology.”
Dr. James M. Leonard, a geography professor and director of the Geography Department GIS Lab, said the contract has so far employed 12 different undergraduate and graduate students. He said the GeoMine project is a joint venture among several federal agencies, notably the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement and several state-level environmental protection agencies, including the WVDEP.
“The project goal is to create a Geographic Information Systems database for monitoring and regulating coal mining in Appalachia,” Leonard said. “I expect additional students to be hired as the needs of WVDEP may require. One hundred percent of the funding has gone to students.”