Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Introduction Certificate in GIS A.S. Degree in GIS Course Descriptions    


What is GIS?
GIS is one of the fastest growing career fields in North America. GIS is a computer based tool used to map, manage, analyze, display, and model spatial information. A GIS is a data management system capable of analyzing patterns and relationships between many different layers of mapped data simultaneously. Advantages of a GIS compared with a traditional map are the ability of the user to quickly alter the display properties, modify or introduce new data, and manipulate analysis results by changing input parameters and modifying the assumptions.
Who uses GIS?
This exciting technology has applications in many fields, including environmental assessment, analysis of natural hazards, site analysis for business and industry, criminal justice, real estate, location analysis, resource management, land use planning, and global change and systems modeling.
Why GIS at American River College?
American River College (ARC) has long been a leader in geospatial education. We offer a GIS Certificate and an A.S. Degree in GIS, with the breadth of twelve different GIS courses. ARC initiated GIS course instruction in 1997, and received approval for degree and certificate programs in May 2001. Also in 2001, ARC’s GIS program received the “Excellence in Education” award from the California Geographic Information Association. The program received a “Special Achievement in GIS” award from Environmental Systems Research Institute in August 2004.
ARC’s GIS program was established, and continues to be guided, by a strong advisory committee. This committee is composed of professional GIS practitioners in the greater Sacramento area, including representatives of federal, state, and local government, academia, and the private sector. Many of ARC’s GIS courses are taught by practicing GIS professionals who bring cutting edge, real-world perspective and experience to the classroom. The required Work Experience in Geography (GIS) course serves as an educational capstone for many students, and also provides an exposure to GIS applications in the real world. This experience often proves invaluable in job searches after graduation.
ARC is a two-year community college in Sacramento, California, and one of four colleges in the Los Rios Community College District—the second largest district in California. ARC’s enrollment of nearly 35,000 ranks it among the top ten community colleges in California, and makes it the largest institution of higher learning in the Sacramento area. The college offers more than 30 certificate programs and 40 occupational degree programs. The college transfers more students to the University of California at Davis and California State University, Sacramento than any other community college.
Facilities and Faculty
Our 30-station main campus computer lab opened during the Spring 1999 semester. Our newest batch of computers arrived in 2013, and provide ample power for modern GIS data processing. We also maintain a campus-wide site license for ArcGIS, the industry-standard GIS software produced by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).
The Earth Sciences Department at ARC includes geography, geology, and GIS courses that are currently taught by five full-time faculty and over ten adjunct faculty. The Earth Sciences Department is committed to working cooperatively with the professional GIS community to continue to build a relevant GIS program at ARC. Phillip Renner served as our first GIS coordinator from the program’s inception until spring 1999. In this capacity, Phil designed courses, campaigned for program funding, and established ARC’s first GIS advisory committee. Our current GIS coordinator is Dr. Hugh Howard, professor of GIS and Geography. Hugh brings GIS education, program development, and lab management experience from San Francisco State University and Stanford University. Hugh is also coauthor of Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization, 3rd edition. Our GIS adjunct professors hail from various governmental and private organizations, and are recognized as leaders in the greater Sacramento GIS community.

For more information, contact:
Hugh Howard, Ph.D.
Professor, GIS and Geography
GIS Coordinator
Phone: (916) 484-8805
Fax: (916) 484-8725