BOONE-Walk into Rankin Hall on the Appalachian State University campus and you will walk through labyrinthian hallways and corridors crisscrossing the Biology, Geology, Geography and Planning classrooms, laboratories and offices.
Unbeknownst to many students and faculty, tucked away on the second floor of Rankin is the College of Arts and Science's Visualization Lab. Arrive there and you walk into a room lined with six computer stations, each with dual monitors, one large format wall-mounted 80" LCD display, and a large conference table.
Run by Dr. Jessica Mitchell (Geography and Planning) and Dr. Scott Marshall (Geology), the lab is an interdisciplinary computer lab providing high-end processing and graphic rendering capabilities for education, research and outreach.
By using GPS, GIS, remote sensing and other mapping technologies, the visualization lab can be used to render 3D maps of rock and landscape surfaces, show burn trends in nearby forests, and examine animal migrations.
Research teams can go out into the field and collect high resolution datasets to take back to the lab for processing and analysis by using a basic digital camera. Data can be taken as well from other scales such as drones, planes, or satellites. This is helpful for archaeologists and geologists needing to work quickly before a site is damaged.
The convenience and cost saving is apparent; the earth can be studied in miniscule detail from a remote lab. In addition, anyone with access can log into the Visualization Lab's database from their home computer, limiting the need to come to campus.
Any student can use the Visualization Lab as long as they are accompanied by a professor or have a professor's permission.
To access and use the lab a student needs an AppCard and a worthy project. A faculty member can put in a request on behalf of the student and their project through the Visualization Lab website. The student will be approved provided they have an applicable project. The lab has staff on hand to help students use the technology if a tutorial is necessary. The room can be reserved as well by filling out a simple form.
Photo credit: Graduate Student Joseph Rudolf