Geovisual Mapping Laboratory marks 50 years of service with open house

cartographyIt’s a celebration that has been 50 years in the making.

The Geovisual Mapping Laboratory (GML) will host an open house Friday, Nov. 20, to commemorate its rich history and many contributions to the NIU community.

“We will be sharing displays from each decade of operations here so visitors can experience the evolution of mapping, as well as a peek into our current plans for the future,” NIU cartographer Amanda Carew said.

Carew, a 2007 NIU grad who majored in meteorology and geography, joined the NIU Department of Geography in 2015 after working in the private sector for more than seven years.

“When I saw an opportunity for a career at NIU, I thought this would be the perfect time to go for my dream job of helping students and staff with projects, working on unique assignments and completing my master’s degree,” Carew said.

Formerly known as the Cartography Lab, the name was changed to the Geovisual Mapping Laboratory in 2012. The name might be new, but the history of contributions to NIU is not.

“This made sense because of the overlap in the progression of cartography and the advancement of data visualization,” Carew said. “Cartography has become so much more than creating a 2-D paper product. Maps now can be built in a 3-D landscape, or as a graphic animation in a website, and we are constantly exploring new methods to create these things.”

For NIU students, this means an opportunity gain experience working with modern methods before leaving to pursue careers after NIU.

carto-2The lab not only offers digital and paper mapping products for the university, nonprofit organizations and government entities, Carew said, but it also has offered more than 200 students chances to learn by doing while working in the lab.

“These funded internships and assistantships provided invaluable experience, and have helped prepare students for life and work after NIU,” Carew said. “Many of them have landed in some pretty fantastic career opportunities. I’m proud to be a part of a lab that is focused on being a teaching and working facility.”

Phil Young, Department of Geography research associate and GML director, shared the sentiment, adding that much of the lab’s success is a credit to the student employees.

“For decades we have had student engagement through internships and assistantships, with over 200 students participating in this program to date,” Young said. “Students gain valuable professional experience working in our lab.”

The open house takes place from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the GML, located in Room 115 of Davis Hall. For more information, call (815) 753-6830 or email acarew@niu.edu.

by Jane Donahue

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