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September 6, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

Student-faculty team maps campus

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -A new slogan has emerged on campus: There's a map for that.

A Slippery Rock University student-faculty team used geographic information system software to create a new suite of digital maps that display sustainable campus features among other information rich topics

The map identifies wildlife sanctuaries, wetlands, athletic fields, parking areas, street and sidewalk lighting, the disc golf course and many other campus physical features. Admissions counselors will use the printable map during student tours.

Student cartographers Max Scanlon and Josh Lewis, environmental studies majors from Glenshaw and Lancaster, collaborated with Paul Scanlon, special assistant to the president for sustainability planning and operations, and Jack Livingston, SRU associate professor of geography, geology and environment, to create the multi-layer map.

The map provides a blueprint for different departments to maintain campus grounds in a more sustainable manner and to identify environmentally sensitive areas, among many other applications. For instance, facilities and planning will use the system's slope analysis map to instruct workers which mowing equipment is safe to use in various areas, and how to minimize gasoline consumption by planting groundcover on steep slopes.

"They can also show me how many acres each athletic field is or a section of campus which can help when purchasing fertilizer or trying to figure out how many acres each employee is mowing," said Dallas Cott, assistant director of campus services. "Other aspects of the mapping that I might use at some point are for tracking structures on campus such as sidewalks, benches and trash cans."

The map shows the location of recycling bins and lighting poles for use in evaluating high efficiency light replacements. The Americans with Disabilities accessibility map shows accessible routes, ADA-compliant entry doors, ADA parking areas and curb cuts. Another map pinpoints the location of security phones and travel distances to evaluate where additional phones might be needed.

Students used ArcGIS software to enter the information used to create the map layers. Each point on the map has longitude and latitude attributes that locate the point precisely in space, so that the software calculates the distance from A to B or the acres of land within chosen boundaries.

Max Scanlon said one of the more interesting layers is the Sustainability Features component.

"There are many interesting features shown on this map, such as the wind-powered lake aeration system located behind the Robert N. Abersold Student Recreation Center and the 'Harnessing Human Energy Project' located inside the student recreation center," he said.

The sustainability map shows, among other things, the location of green roofs, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings, the bat condominium and outdoor geology laboratory.

"Mapping Slippery Rock University is beneficial in many ways, and the admissions tour map showcasing sustainability features may help people to visualize the University's efforts towards becoming a more sustainable campus," Paul Scanlon said. "This visual representation of Slippery Rock's sustainability features will hopefully encourage prospective students interested in sustainability to select SRU as their college, and to encourage existing students and faculty to practice living even more sustainably."

Max Scanlon said the project enabled him to use the skills that he learned in class and dramatically improved his confidence.

"I knew Slippery Rock University had some things like LEED-certified buildings and green roofs, though prior to working on this project, I did not know the actual extent of the sustainability features here on campus," he said.

Lewis said he mastered new cartographic skills during the project and that the work reinforced his commitment to greening.

"I am passionate about sustainability because sustainability not only improves the environment and health of the current population but it is going to improve those aspects for generations to come," he said.

Paul Scanlon (no relation to student) said the map offers 100 layers that can be accessed, combined as desired and printed as maps. The map delineates the Storm Harbor Equestrian Center property, bus routes and leadership courses.

"Our plan is to create a series of commonly used/desired maps that we can make available to the public, and to set up various individuals like facilities staff with the software and ability to create new maps on an as-needed basis," he said.

Livingston said the beauty of the map, which he called a high end project, is it provides a whole new suite of digital maps

"They put everything together in manner that everyone has access, everyone can see and everyone can use," he said.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.