Penn State’s New Remote Sensing Program Teaches Drone Data Analysis


Citing a rise in popularity for drone-collected data, Penn State University is adding an online graduate certificate program dedicated to remote sensing and earth observation.

Offered by the college of earth and mineral sciences through Penn State World Campus (the university’s online campus), the 12-credit program will teach students to use, understand and analyze remote sensing imagery and terrain data.

According to the course description, the program “addresses the theory, methodologies and techniques for the professional application of remote sensing in geographic information systems and analysis. Completing this certificate can empower you to leverage data gathered from sources such as satellites, drones and LiDAR.

“You’ll also learn how to use computational methods to automate the analysis of earth observation data and integrate those skills into a GIS workflow.”

Karen Schuckman, lead instructor of the program, says in a Penn State release, “There are a million different ways to use remote sensing data to solve challenging problems that face us in today’s world – be they sustainability, security, food production or even recreation.”

However, she cautions that it’s easy to arrive at the wrong answer or to ask the wrong questions if you don’t fully understand the data you’re working with.

“Choosing the right data for a particular problem requires really understanding how the sensors work,” she explains. “You can’t just push a button and get a meaningful, valid result.”

Penn State also offers an online master of geographic information systems through its online campus. The university says it has been recognized by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency as a center of academic excellence in geospatial sciences.

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