A team of eight graduate students won the 2012 national GeoLeague Challenge at the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing conference in Sacramento, Ca. The society is one of the leading professional organizations devoted to advancing research and applications of geospatial data. The team, a mix of forestry and geospatial environmental analysis master’s and doctoral students from the college as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, are members of the society’s Virginia Tech student chapter.

The goal of the competition was to use geographic information system (GIS) analysis to develop a cost- and time-efficient method to update dynamic coastal wetland information for the National Wetlands Inventory. The team’s winning strategy, published in the June issue of Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, is an innovative and scientifically supported approach incorporating multiple sensors and data sources, while balancing cost, processing complexity, and classification accuracy.

“This national recognition and the teamwork across departments and colleges are testimony to the expertise, enterprise, and initiative of our student team,” noted Dean Paul Winistorfer. “They have displayed outstanding skills in their ability to work together as well as outstanding technical and scientific skills that will be much needed in addressing sustainability matters that are so critical to our planet.”

“After months of work on the project, it was great to see our hard work pay off,” said Beth Stein, the team’s leader. “Our team worked very well together in all stages of the project, from developing our vision to conducting the research and producing a high-quality proposal. We each had different areas of expertise, which enabled us to capitalize on our varied strengths.”

“This project has been a student-initiated and student-led activity, over several months, of the student chapter,” said Professor Jim Campbell, the chapter’s faculty advisor. “I’m extremely proud of our team and grateful to the society for encouraging and recognizing outstanding student engagement in this important field.”