Exterior of the School of Architecture building

Our Story:
History of GIS at Georgia Tech

Our Story:
History of GIS at Georgia Tech

Geographic information systems (GIS) as a field of study has been at Georgia Tech for more than 30 years, with the first class taught in 1988 in what is now the School of City & Regional Planning.

Over the years, those involved with the field have pioneered leading 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 what is now the Caddell Building (seen above before its recent renovation). 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 Drummond 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 CSAT to help foster interdisciplinary and intergovernmental research

1995: Drummond and Ray Argo of the University of Georgia (UGA) acquired funding from the Georgia Legislature to implement the Strategic Initiative in Geographic Information Systems, a targeted effort to increase the capability within the University System of Georgia 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: CGIS, CSAT, and the Georgia GIS Clearinghouse were moved from GTRI to the College of Architecture. Professor Steve French is appointed CGIS director. Tom Mettile is appointed director of the Georgia GIS Clearinghouse.

1997: CGIS hires its first full-time researchers (four) 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 CGIS.

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

2017: CGIS rebrands itself as the Center for Spatial Planning Analytics and Visualization (CSPAV).

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

2020: Today the Center has a staff of six research faculty, including the director, and routinely employs 10-20 students each year.


If you can't find the information you were looking for, we'll get you to the right place.
Contact Us