State University of New York at Morrisville

Dr. Walid H. Shayya
School of Agriculture and Natural Resouces

Course Outline for RREN 303



Spring 2019

Blackboard Access of Course Material On-line (for students enrolled in the course)


Dr. Walid H. Shayya

Instructor's Contact Information


RREN 303 is intended to cover the fundamentals of geospatial information systems.  These include the geographic information system (GIS) which represents a computerized data management system designed to input, store, analyze, and output geographically-referenced spatial data; the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) which combines globally-functional satellite constellations (including the U.S. Global Positioning System or GPS) with global and regional ground-based reference stations (at accurately surveyed locations) to enhance and broaden positioning; and remote sensing which is widely used to gather information about features on the earth’s surface without being in physical contact with these features.  The course is designed to provide students who possess limited geospatial technology and analysis background with the ability to gather spatially-distributed and geographically-referenced data, query data, analyze spatial relationships, and produce professional outputs.  The specific topics covered include geospatial data models; geodesy, datums, map projections, and coordinate systems; mapping and cartographic output; data collection and entry; GNSS and coordinate surveying; aerial and satellite imagery; geospatial and tabular data analyses; basic geospatial analysis; advanced geospatial (including terrain) analyses; geopatial estimation; geospatial modeling; and data standards and quality.  The laboratory work will focus on the practical application of geospatial information systems following the hands-on approach where the student is expected to gain practical knowledge on using QGIS, ArcGIS for Desktop, aerial and satellite imagery, and a number of positioning and navigation systems.

Prerequisite: NATR 213 and upper division standing or permission of instructor
4 credits (2 lecture hours, 4 laboratory hours), spring semester


Upon the successful completion of RREN 303, the student is expected to have:

  1. Developed an understanding of the various components of geospatial information systems (GIS, GNSS, and remote sensing).

  2. Understood how to design, create, and maintain spatially-distributed and geographically-referenced data using desktop GIS software.

  3. Evaluated vector and raster data entry and editing, tiling, database and metadata development, and cartographic model development.

  4. Understood how to best utilize the various data models (including vector and raster data) for representing entities.

  5. Evaluated the use of remotely-sensed aerial and satellite imagery (and elevation data) in GIS applications.

  6. Applied positioning systems (including GPS) for geosaptial data collection. 

  7. Utilized analytical methods to facilitate basic and advanced geospatial analysis, including multi-layer overlay operations, interpolation, and surface analysis.

  8. Evaluated real-world applications of GIS and spatial analysis to investigating a variety of current natural resources and environmental issues.

  9. Learned the numerous applications of the QGIS and the ArcGIS Desktop software.

  10. Became proficient at generating detailed project technical reports and making professional presentations.


The instructor has the following designated office hours per week:

If necessary, students are also encouraged to make appointments to see the instructor at other times.


RREN 303 is a four-credit hour course.  It includes six contact hours per week (two for lecture and four for laboratory).  One section of the class is offered during the 2019 Spring semester.  The schedule of the offered section is as follows:


The following are three required textbooks that must be purchased (textbook are available from the Campus Store as well as from various vendors online).  Please note that older editions of the listed textbooks cannot be used in class:

  1. Bolstad, P.  2016.  GIS Fundamentals: A First Textbook on Geographic Information Systems (5th Edition).  XanEdu Publishing Inc. (ISBN: 978-1-50669-587-7).

  2. Law, M. and A. Collins.  2015. Getting to Know ArcGIS (4th Edition, for ArcGIS 10.2 and 10.3).  ESRI Press, Redlands, California (ISBN: 978-1589483828).

  3. Allen, D.W. 2016. GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook 4th Edition (for ArcGIS 10.3.x). ESRI Press, Redlands, California (ISBN: 978-1589484535).

The first textbook will be used predominantly during the lecture while the second and third books will be used during the laboratory.  Additional handouts on topics not covered (or briefly covered) within these books will be provided by the instructor.  Two additional manuals (bound as one) to be used during the course are also required (only available for purchase from the Campus Store).    

  1. Shayya, W.H. 2019.  Fundamentals of Geospatial Systems Class Presentations (4th Edition).  Morrisville State College.

  2. Shayya, W.H. 2018.  Introductory Exercises Using QGIS Desktop (5th Edition).  Morrisville State College.

Additional pertinent material is available on-line from a variety of sources for geographic information systems (GIS.COM, fgdc, GeoPlatform, nationalatlas,, USGS, and ESRI), the global positioning system (,, Trimble, and Garmin), and remote sensing (USGS, USDA, CUGIR, and NYS GIS Clearinghouse).  Students are encouraged to be actively involved in acquiring some pertinent knowledge from these and other on-line resources available on the worldwide web.


Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Disability Services (DS) office immediately to register for services and receive a Notification of Disabilities form. Once you have this form, we will meet privately, to discuss your specific needs.   Although you may register for services at any time, please attempt to make arrangements within the first two weeks of the semester so all appropriate academic accommodations can be set. 



Evaluation is a shared responsibility between the teacher and the student. The purpose of evaluation is to demonstrate how well the professor has taught and the student has learned specific course materials, the principles, concepts, and terms relevant to the covered topics.  Evaluation is also intended to assess the student's ability to apply the acquired knowledge in problem-solving.

The breakdown of grading in this course will be as follows:

The distribution of grades in this course will be based on the A-F College grading scheme. The letter grades correspond to the following percentage scale: A (90-100%), A- (87-89.9%), B+ (83-86.9%), B (80-82.9%), B- (77-79.9%), C+ (73-76.9%), C (70-72.9%), C- (67-69.9%), D+ (63-66.9%), D (60-62.9%), and F (<60%).



Lecture Topic*

Date Textbook
1 Introduction to RREN 303
Introduction to ArcGIS for Desktop
- 21 Jan.
- 23 Jan.
2Chapter 2
2 GIS and the Information Age
Geographic Data
- 28 Jan.
- 30 Jan.
1Chapter 1
1Chapter 2
3 Common Spatial Data Models
Comparison of Spatial Data Models
- 4 Feb.
- 6 Feb.
1Chapter 2
1Chapter 2
4 Vector Topology
- 11 Feb.
- 13 Feb.
1Chapter 2
1Chapter 3
5 Map Projections and Introduction to Maps
GIS Data Entry and Editing
- 18 Feb.
- 20 Feb.
1Chapters 3&4
1Chapter 4
6 First Hourly Examination (topic/format)
GIS Output
- 25 Feb.
- 27 Feb.

1Chapter 4
7 Overview of Remote Sensing, Aerial Imagery, & Satellite Imagery
Digital Orthoimagery
- 4 March
- 6 March
1Chapter 6
1Chapters 6 & 7
Week 8 - Spring Break (No classes)
9 NYS GIS Clearinghouse Imagery
Digital Data
- 18 March
- 20 March
1Chapter 7
10 Introduction to Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Differential GPS
Overview of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS)
- 25 March
- 27 March
1Chapter 5
Chapter 5
11 GNSS Signal Errors, Augmentation, and Applications
Attribute Data and Tables
- 1 April
- 3 April 
1Chapter 5
1Chapter 8
12 Inventory Operations
Second Hourly Examination (topic/format)
- 8 April
- 10 April
1Chapter 9
13 Basic Spatial Analysis
Advanced Spatial Operations and Network Analysis
- 15 April
- 17 April
1Chapters 9&10
1Chapter 9
14 Terrain Analysis
Spatial Models and Modeling
- 22 April
- 24 April
1Chapter 11
1Chapter 13
15 Data Standards and Quality
Final Examination Review and Class Presentations
- 29 April
- 1 May
1Chapter 14
16 Final Examination (topic/format) Finals Week  

Week: Date

Laboratory Topic*

1: 15 Jan. Overview of GIS (GIS.COM, USGS) (one hour lecture)
1: 23 Jan. Installation of Exercise Data (CD-ROM of Data Purchased with Texts 2 and 3)
Introduction to QGIS
QGIS Exercise 1: Getting Vector Data into QGIS (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Working with vector layers
  - Working with vector data attributes
  - Concluding remarks
2: 28 Jan. QGIS Exercise 2: Querying and Symbolizing Vector Data (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Querying vector layers
  - Symbolizing vector layers
  - Concluding remarks
2: 30 Jan. QGIS Exercise 3: Labeling and Classifying Vector Data (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Labeling vector layers
  - Classifying vector data
  - Concluding remarks
3: 4 Feb. QGIS Exercise 4: Creating Maps (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Getting started
  - Using QGIS map composer
  - Concluding remarks
3: 6 Feb. QGIS Exercise 5: Map Projections and Inventory Operations (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Getting started
  - Changing the map projection
  - Measuring distances
  - Measuring areas
  - Managing scale
  - Concluding remarks
4: 11 Feb. QGIS Exercise 6: Creating Vector Data (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Getting started
  - Creating a line vector layer
  - Creating a polygon vector layer
  - Creating a point vector layer
  - Concluding remarks
4: 13 Feb. QGIS Exercise 7: Geospatial Analysis (QGIS Tutorial)
  - Overview of QGIS
  - Exercise overview
  - Getting started
  - Vector analysis
  - Terrain analysis
  - Concluding remarks
5: 18 Feb. Interacting with Maps (2Chapter 3 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Displaying map data
  - Navigating a map
  - Using basic tools
  - Looking at feature attributes
Interacting with Data (2Chapter 4 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Browsing through map data
  - Adding data to ArcMap
  - Working with Map Layers
5: 20 Feb. Exploring Online Resources (2Chapter 5 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Creating a web map
  - Merging online and local layers
  - Sharing a ma ppackage
Working with Coordinate Systems and Projections (2Chapter 6 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Examining coordinate systems
  - Projecting data
  - Defining a map projection
  - Georeferncing a raster
6: 25 Feb. Symbolizing Features (2Chapter 7 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Creating custom symbology
  - Symbolizing features by categorical attributes
  - Using styles and creating layer files
  - Symbolizing rasters
Classifying Features (2Chapter 8 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Classifying features by standard methods
  - Mapping density
  - Using graduated and chart symbols
6: 27 Feb. Labeling Features (2Chapter 9 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Using dynamic labels
  - Setting rules for label placement
  - Creating graphic labels
  - Converting dynamic labels to annotation
Making Maps for Presentation (2Chapter 10 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Creating a Layout
  - Adding titles and additional text
  - Adding standard map elements
  - Adding final touches and setting print options
7: 4 March Mapping Where Things Are (3Chapter 1 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Working with categories
  - Controlling wich values are displayed
  - Limiting values to display
7: 6 March Mapping the Most and Least (3Chapter 2 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Mapping quantities
  - Choosing classes
  - Creating a map series
  - Working with charts
Week 8 - Spring Break (No classes)
9: 18 March Mapping Density (3Chapter 3 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Displaying density for analysis
  - Creating dot density maps
Finding What's Inside (3Chapter 4 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Overlaying datasets for analysis
  - Finding what is partially inside
9: 20 March Building Geodatabases (2Chapter 11 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Creating a geodatabase
  - Creating feature classes
Creating Features (2Chapter 12 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Drawing features
  - Using more construction tools
10: 25 March Editing Features (2Chapter 13 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Deleting and modifying features
  - Splitting and merging features
  - Editing feature attribute values
Geocoding Addresses (2Chapter 14 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Creating an address locator
  - Matching addresses
  - Rematching addresses
10: 27 March Querying Data (2Chapter 15 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Selecting and Finding features
  - Using attribute queries
  - Creating reports
Selecting Features by Location (2Chapter 16 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Using location queries
  - Combining attribute and location queries
11: 1 April Mapping Using a Handheld GPS Unit (1st GPS Exercise)
11: 3 April Navigating Using Real-time Differential GPS (2nd GPS Exercise)
12: 8 April Joining and Relating Data (2Chapter 17 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Joining data by attribute
  - Relating data
  - Joining data by location
Preparing Data for Analysis (2Chapter 18 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Dissolving features
  - Clipping layers
  - Creating a data subset
  - Running tools in a model
12: 10 April Geoprocessing Vector Data (2Chapter 19 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Buffering features
  - Overlaying data
  - Calculating attribute values
  - Creating graphs
Using Spatial Analyst (2Chapter 20 - Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop)
  - Creating raster surfaces
  - Combining raster surfaces
13: 15 April Finding What's Nearby (3Chapter 5 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Selecting what's nearby
  - Creating buffer featrures
  - Clipping features
  - Buffering values
  - Using multiple buffer zones
  - Quantifying nearness
  - Creating distance surfaces
  - Calculating cost along a network
  - Calculating nearness along a network
13: 17 April Mapping Change (3Chapter 6 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Mapping change in location
  - Mapping change in location and magnitude
  - Mapping percent change in value
14: 22 April Measuring Geographic Distribution (3Chapter 7 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Calculating centers
  - Adding weights to centers
  - Calculating standard distance
  - Calculating a standard deviational ellipse
  - Calculating the linear directional mean
14: 24 April Demonstration of the Spatial Analyst Extension of ArcGIS
  - Creating surface of elevations
  - Surface analysis (contour, slope, aspect, hillshade, & viewshed)
  - Raster calculations
  - Converting features to rasters
  - Converting rasters to features
15: 29 April Analyzing Patterns (3Chapter 8 - GIS Tutorial 2: Spatial Analysis Workbook)
  - Using average nearest neighbor
  - Identifying the clustering of values
  - Checking for multidistance clustering
  - Measuring spatial autocorrelation
15: 1 May Class Presentations

*The topics and corresponding dates listed in the tables above are tentative and may be subject to change during the semester.