Remote Sensing Syllabus
Fall, 2023

  Instructor: Prof. Michael Ramsey
Office: 509/511 SRCC
Office Phone: 624-8772
Office Hours: W, Th (2:00 - 3:00pm)
Office Hours: or by appointment
T.A./Lab Instructor: Ms. Poushalee Banerjee
Office: Thaw 201
Office Hours: Fri (10:00am - 12:00pm; held in: SRCC 207)
Office Hours: or by appointment

  1. Objective: This course is designed to give you a foundation in the theory and techniques of remote sensing and geospatial data visualization spanning the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum from the visible to the radar wavelengths. Topics include light/matter interaction, optics and sensor design, image analysis using the commercial ENVI software suite, as well as current applications of remote sensing to science and engineering problems. The course and integrated laboratory are designed to provide you with a skillset in remote sensing applications, the geologic and human processes revealed in remotely-gathered data, as well as how those processes are assessed with these datasets.

  2. Required Text: "Remote Sensing Principles, Interpretations, and Applications Perspective", 4th edition, by: Floyd Sabins and James Eillis (Waveland Press, Inc.; 2020, ISBN: 978-1-4786-3710-3).

    Supplementary Text: "Remote Sensing of the Environment: An Earth Resource Perspective", 2nd edition, by: J.R. Jensen (Prentice Hall Publishing; 2007, ISBN: 0-13-188950-8).

  3. The second textbook was the one used for this class for many years, but it getting old (like the instructor!). There should be plenty of inexpensive/used options out there for it. It is recommended that you have your copy of the required textbook for exam preparation and laboratory projects. Both books will be on 2-hour loan at the Bevier Engineering Library. There are also e-book rental options available for the Sabins and Eillis text at the Pitt Bookstore as well as the rental platform VitalSource, which provides several rental options for a lower cost.

  4. GEOL-1460 Meetings: the lecture is scheduled on Wednesday from 6:00pm - 8:50pm in Thaw Hall, room 11 & the computer lab in SRCC 207. Attendance is strongly recommended for all scheduled lectures and mandatory for all scheduled labs. Much of the exam material and laboratory insights will be derived from the class notes and therefore attendance will help your grade. I will post a summary of the week's lecture notes on the schedule page usually in the early afternoon on the day of that lecture. The three computer labs (plus a pre-lab) meet during the regular class meeting times, so there will be no lecture during those weeks (see laboratory information below). There may also be times during the semester where I will not be here due to research-related obligations. I try to schedule these during the weeks of the labs and/or the exam, but if that is not possible (like week #1), either the Prof. Daniel Williams or Dr. Ian Flynn will cover those weeks/classes.

  5. GEOL-2461: Students taking this course are expected to attend the first lecture of the GEOL-1460 course and then inform me which of the two class options they are going to pursue (see below). We will not meet formally as a group in a seminar; however, I would like to meet with each student during their project formulation.

  6. Pandemic-related Information: all lecture and labs will meet in-person as specified by University rules. There will be no recordings of the lecture, nor virutal attendance (unless dictated by the University during the semester). Masks are optional (at this time) depending on the transmission risk in Allegheny County, which is determined by the CDC. If the county did move into the "high risk" category during the semester, masks become madatory indoors. No exceptions will be granted (including for drinks or eating)!

    If you do test positive for COVID (or the flu) and need to isolate, please contact me as soon as possible. You can review the online notes and text, but then contact me if you have questions.

  7. Course Requirements:

    1. Exam:

      There will be one mid-term exam to be taken in person. The exam will include essay questions, quantitative problem solving, short answers, and multiple choice. Exam questions will be based on the concepts covered in the lectures and textbook, but will require you to think beyond simple memorizing. I do not give make-up exams or work, so please make sure you are there for the mid-term!

    1. Final Project:

      In lieu of a final exam, all students taking the GEOL-1460 course will be expected to submit a final project. You will be given the choice of 4 different datasets similar to the ones that you will see in the labs. You will choose one of these, propose a science question/goal, and conduct some level of image processing on the data using the skills that you've learned in the labs to answer that question/goal. You will hand-in the project at the end of the semester (after Thanksgiving), which will consist of a 5-slide Powerpoint file and 1-page summary report. More information will be given on the project in the coming weeks.

    1. Image-processing Laboratories:

      There will be three graded labs in addition to one non-graded "prelab" that use the ENVI image processing software. That software is present on the 10 machines in the Remote Sensing computer lab (SRCC 207). As already mentioned, all labs meet during the normal class meeting time. However, the lab exercises will likely take longer than the scheduled meeting time. Each of you will be assigned to one of three lab "groups" that will be given a 1-hour time slot with the TA in the lab. The start time of your slot rotates from lab to lab. Please make sure that you know your lab group and the time to show up for that week's lab. You can find your group assignments and lab meeting times here: lab groups.

      Extended laboratory hours may be offered by the TA. She will send out information on this, her office hours, and how she will present the labs during those weeks. The TA will also decide on a grading policy for late lab reports. You will lose significant points if your lab report is more than 1 week late! Finally, she will create a guide to writing your lab reports. That will be posted as a link at the bottom of this page before lab #1.

    1. Graduate-level Course:

      The GEOL-2461 course is established for graduate students or, in special circumstances, undergraduate students who have prior experience and/or require graduate-level course credit. There are two options for GEOL-2461:

      • course + small project: students who have never taken a remote sensing course in the past should choose this option. You will be expected to attend the course lectures/labs and take the exam. Students will also work on a small (but larger than the undergraduate requirement) independent remote sensing research project and present the results to the class at the end of the semester together with 4-page written report. The choice of your project topic, the remote sensing data, and the analysis are up to you, but made in consultation with me.

      • large research project: students who have had a remote sensing course in the past (particularly this class taken as an undergraduate) should take this option. You are, of course, welcome to sit-in on any of the course lectures and labs as a review/refresher if needed, but it is not required. Your grade, therefore, will be based solely on your large, in-depth, independent research project using remote sensing data. The results will be presented at the end of the semester to the class together with a 8-page written report. The choice of your project topic, the remote sensing data, and the analysis are up to you, but made in consultation with me.

  8. Grading: Grading for the 1460-level course will be based on the exam, final project, the labs and class participation, with the exact breakdown being:

  9. Mid-term exam 30%
    Final project 30%
    Laboratory #1 5%
    Laboratory #2 10%
    Laboratory #3 15%
    Class participation 10%

  10. Other Policy Statements and Resources: Can be found here.

  11. Course Web Site: The primary information portal for this course is this webpage: It contains the syllabus, schedule, online notes, announcements, and assignments for the class. I tend to continually revise the class schedule as the semester progresses, so please check there for the most current class information.

  12. Web Links:

This page last updated: Thursday, 21-Dec-2023 18:03:05 EST