Computing Facilities

Substantial computing facilities are available to geography students. Being housed in the geography department, students have access to all departmental lab facilities, in addition to other computing resources sponsored and maintained by other university units. The geography department has three primary computer labs:

  • The largest lab, the Geographic Analysis and Mapping Lab (GAML), contains over 30 high-end PCs that are typically replaced on a three-year cycle.
  • The Graduate Student Lab has several PCs with the full suite of software.
  • The Advanced GIS Lab is a smaller facility used for GIS-based research only and students have access to this lab at all times. It houses a number of workstations, plus a variety of peripheral devices.

Students may access a wide range of software in the labs. The primary GIS software includes ESRI's ArcGIS suite, Intergraph's GeoMedia, and IDRISI. Numerous drawing, statistical, and programming packages are also available.

Other computer facilities are available nearby:

  • The College of Liberal Arts (CLA) maintains a PC lab adjacent to the two Geography labs.
  • The CLA-OIT Engineering Team provides UNIX and database support for the MGIS program.
  • The Borchert Map Library, containing more than a half-million maps and atlases available for use and a well-equipped lab for cartographic and GIS work, is located one building away from the Geography Department in Wilson Library.

The geography department has a full-time computer support specialist who maintains the equipment in the departmental labs.

Physical Labs

Our physical geography facilities include labs for tree-ring analysis and pollen/charcoal studies, soil characterization, as well as several computer labs. We have a full suite of field equipment for use in a variety of investigations including hand-held GPS units, a ground penetrating radar (GPR) for use in lake sediment studies, and field equipment for the collection of dendrochronological samples and lake sediments.


The Human-Environment Geographic Information Science (HEGIS) laboratory in the Department of Geography, Environment & Society, conducts research, education, and outreach centered on advancing Geographic Information Science (GIS) approaches to understanding human, natural, and human-environment systems.

Cartography Laboratory

The University of Minnesota Cartography Lab is an integral part of the Department of Geography, Environment & Society, and it has been operating for approximately forty years. The lab produces maps and does GIS processing for a variety of clients—both on and off campus. In addition, the lab provides a setting where students receive hands-on experience with GIS and contemporary map production.

Other Computing Facilities

Depending upon the particular courses they are enrolled in or research projects they are involved in, students also have access to other university facilities. These facilities include the Remote Sensing Laboratory, an exceptionally strong computer lab housed in Forest Resources, the Soil Landscape and Analysis Lab, and the Environmental Resources Spacial Analysis Center (ERSAC).