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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is remote sensing?

Remote sensing is the study of the environment from a distance using instruments such as cameras and radars mounted on aircraft or spacecraft. Remote sensing has both an Engineering and a Science components. The Engineering part of the discipline deals with sensor technologies and the interaction of electromagnetic waves with the propgation medium and the surface, including vegetation canopies and subsurface penetration. The Science portion of the discipline is the application of the remotely sensed data to scientific studies. Thus, remote sensing is inherently interdisciplinary. Remote sensing is being applied in such diverse fields as archeology, oceanography, meteorology, hydrology, air/sea interaction, fisheries, watersheds, weather and climate, land-use planning, waste disposal, mining, geologic studies, agriculture, range management, and mapping. More background is available as well as an on-line tutorial on Remote Sensing.

What is the Center for Remote Sensing (CERS)?

Faculty from the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECEn), Geography, and Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) originally proposed the formation of an interdisciplinary Center known as the Center for Remote Sensing (CERS). Organizationally similar to the BYU Red Center for Western Studies, the Center goals are to: 1) enhance the academic experience for our students, 2) enhance the reputation of BYU, and 3) expand research opportunities and experiences for faculty and students. The Center will administer a new interdisciplinary Master's of Environmental Remote Sensing Degree in coordination with the departments involved.

Why a Center?

Developments in the technology of remote sensing have enabled us to better understand the global atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere as a system. Remote sensing is inherently interdisciplinary, with application to such diverse fields as archeology, weather and climiate prediction, fisheries, hydrology, land-use planning, waste disposal, geography, mining, geologic studies, and crop yields. While sensor technology development has traditionally resided in the Electrical Engineering field, no single department or college can properly administer a strong academic/research program in remote sensing and its applications.

A Center facilitates the interaction of the various academic units and foster interdisciplinary faculty research. As a focus point for current and planned growth of remote sensing research and teaching at BYU, the Center will also provide valuable name recognition for BYU.

Two of the research laboratories (the MERS Lab and the Laboratory for GIA) which will support CERS are experiencing significant growth due to their expanding research programs. This growth is straining department resources. The Center will provide a mechanism for sustaining the growth of these laboratories.

By expanding the educational and research opportunities of students and faculty at BYU, the academic programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels will be enhanced as has been demonstrated by both MERS and LGIA experiences. Further, we can attract students who will be hired into positions which can benefit both BYU and the Church. The Center will administer a new interdisciplinary Master's of Environmental Remote Sensing degree. Center resources will support a Visiting Scientist program which will enable to attract established researchers to strengthen the research and academic programs a BYU. Visiting scientists will be hired on a combination of soft and hard money. The combination is felt essential to attract the highest caliber of research faculty who, in turn, will bring their existing research programs to support additional soft-money staff and student research assistants.