Our Story

History of GIS at Georgia Tech

Geographic information systems (GIS) as a field of study has been at Georgia Tech for nearly 30 years, with the first class taught in City Planning in 1988.

Over the years, those involved with the field have pioneered leading industry software, such as remote sensing software, and have been instrumental in bringing GIS to the state of Georgia. The field at Georgia Tech grew as it partnered with other educational institutions, state and local governments, and added staff.

The Center was previously housed in the old Caddell Building (seen above). We are now in the Economic Development Building on Spring Street.

Our Timeline:

1988: First geographic information systems class at Georgia Tech offered through City Planning and taught by Bill Drummond

1989: Mike Rowan and Nick Faust of the Electro-Optical Systems Lab (EOSL) at Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and Bill Drummond of City Planning awarded a Faculty Research Program grant from the Georgia Tech Vice President of Research to develop a Center for Spatial Analysis Technologies (CSAT) at Georgia Tech

1991: Bob Dyar and Jack Alhadeff of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) became part of the Center for Spatial Analysis Technologies (CSAT) to help foster interdisciplinary and intergovernmental research

1995: Bill Drummond and Ray Argo of the University of Georgia (UGA) acquired funding from the Georgia State Legislature to implement the Strategic Initiative in Geographic Information Systems, a targeted effort to increase the capability within the university system to use GIS technology in teaching, research, and service activities

1995: The Center for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS), The Georgia GIS Clearinghouse, and a partner lab at UGA were established as a direct result of the Strategic Initiative in GIS

1997: The Center for GIS, CSAT, and Georgia GIS Clearinghouse were moved from GTRI to the College of Architecture. Professor Steve French is appointed the director of the Center for GIS. Tom Mettile is appointed director of the GIS Clearinghouse.

1997: The Center for GIS hires its first full-time researchers (4) and student assistants, many of whom teach GIS classes across campus.

1998: The Georgia GIS Clearinghouse hires three full-time staff members.

2006: CSAT moves operations off-campus to the USGS’ Atlanta offices.

2011: Steve French steps down as director to become the College of Architecture’s first Associate Dean of Research.

2012: Professor Subhrajit Guhathakurta is appointed director of the Center for GIS.

2014: The College of Architecture’s IMAGINE Lab is integrated into the Center for GIS, bringing with it three full-time researchers and more than 10 student assistants.

2017: Today the Center has a staff of seven research faculty, and employs about 18 graduate students each year.

November 2017: The Center for Geographic Information Systems rebrands itself as the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV).

May 2018: Guhathakurta, director of CSPAV, is named the new chair of the School of City and Regional Planning.