Remote Sensing Syllabus
Fall, 2016

Instructor: Prof. Michael Ramsey
Office: 509/511 SRCC
Office Phone: 624-8772
Office Hours: M (2:00 - 4:00pm)
T.A./Lab Instructor: Christine Simurda
Office: 209 Thaw
Office Phone: 648-8572
Office Hours: Th (1:00 - 3:00pm)

  1. Objective: This course provides a foundation in the theory and techniques of remote sensing and geospatial data visualization spanning the electromagnetic spectrum from the ultraviolet to microwave. Topics will include light/matter interaction, optics and sensor design, image analysis using commercial state-of-the-art software, as well as current applications of remote sensing to science and engineering problems. The course and integrated laboratory are designed to provide you with an appreciation of current remote sensing issues, the geologic and human processes that impact remotely-gathered data, and how those processes can be measured using remote sensing.

  2. Required 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).

    Supplementary Text: "Remote Sensing: Principles and Interpretation" 3rd edition, by: F. F. Sabins (W. H. Freeman & Co.; 1996, ISBN: 0-71-672442-1).

  3. Both textbooks will be available on two-hour loan at the Engineering Library. However, it is strongly recommended you have your own copy of the required textbook for exam preparation and laboratory projects.

  4. Lecture Times: Wednesday from 6:00pm - 8:50pm in Thaw 102 (lecture) & SRCC 207 (computer labs). Attendance is mandatory for all scheduled class and laboratory meetings. Much of the exam material and laboratory insights will be derived from my class notes and therefore attendance is beneficial to your grade. The three computer labs (plus the computer pre-lab) will meet during the regular class meeting times (see schedule). During those weeks, no lectures will be given and students are expected to meet in the computer laboratory. There will several times during the semester where I will not be here due to research-related travel (including the first week). Unfortunately, these trips cannot be helped and are part of my federally-sponsored research program. These are usually during the weeks of the labs and/or exams. The TA will cover those weeks/classes.

  5. Course Requirements:

    1. Exams:

      There will be two exams (one mid-term and one final) with equal weighting. The exams may include essay questions, quantitative problem solving, short answers, and multiple choice. Exam questions will be based on material covered in the lectures and textbook and will not be cumulative. I do not give make-up exams or work, so please do not even ask and make sure you are there for both of those weeks!

    1. Image-processing Laboratories:

      There will be three primary labs in addition to one introductory lab. These labs will meet in SRCC room 207 during the class meeting time, so no additional hours need to be scheduled. However, the lab exercises will likely take longer than the scheduled meeting time. Extended laboratory hours will be announced by the TA. In addition, the large class size may require lab/computer time to be scheduled. More details will follow. The TA will decide on a grading policy for late lab reports - you will lose significant points if your lab is more than 1 week late!

    1. Graduate-level Course:

      The GEOL-2461 course has been established for graduate students or in special circumstances, undergraduate students who require graduate-level course credit. Anyone registering for this course needs the permission of the instructor and has two options for credit:

      • course + seminar + small project: students who have never taken a remote sensing course in the past should choose this option. You will be expected to attend all lectures, perform all labs, and take both exams. You will meet for an additional 2 hours per week with Dr. Shawn Wright (Thu, 12:50 - 2:40pm in SRCC 210) to read and discuss current research papers in remote sensing. Students will also devise a small independent research project using remote sensing data and present the results to the class at the end of the semester together with 5-page written report.

      • seminar + large research project: students who have had a remote sensing course in the past (particularly this class taken as an undergraduate) are required to take this option. You are of course welcome to sit-in on the lectures and labs as a review/refresher, but are not required to do so. You will be exempt from taking the exams and preparing lab reports, but will meet for the additional 2 hours per week with Dr. Wright for the seminar discussion. Your grade, therefore, will be based on your performance in the seminar discussion plus the results of a more 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 15-page written report.

    • Grading: Grading for the 1460-level course will be based on both exams, the laboratories and class participation, with the exact breakdown being:

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

    • Cheating: This is not even worth bringing up in a university-level course. Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz, exam or paper will be imposed. No excuses.

    • Disability Resources: If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services, 216 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890/412-383-7355 (TTY), as early as possible in the term. Disability Resources and Services will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

    • E-mail Communication Policy: Your University e-mail address ( is used by the University (and me) for official communication. Students are expected to read e-mail sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to email in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an e-mail forwarding service that allows students to read their e-mail via other service providers. Students that choose to forward their e-mail from their address to another address do so at their own risk. If e-mail is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University e-mail address. Please see the E-mail Communication Policy for details.

    • Course Web Site: The primary web site for this course is located at: It contains the syllabus, 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.

    • Web Links:

This page last updated: Wednesday, 21-Dec-2016 16:01:14 EST