The Geography and Earth Science Department features two state of the art GIS computer labs. Each lab is outfitted with over 30 high powered computers. Every computer hosts a wide variety of cutting-edge, industry-standard software, with applications ranging from geospatial analysis to visual editing and design.

This list includes

ArcGIS Adobe Design Premium eCognition ENVI
ERDAS Imagine Feature Analyst Hypack IBM SPSS Statistics
LAStools Leica Cyclone MAPublisher Pix4d
Quick Terrain Modeler RStudio Terrset Trimble Pathfinder Office
USGS Velocity Mapping Toolbox

In addition, the GIS labs provide students remote desktop access to the software, a SMART board, a scanner, and a color printer. The GIS labs are available to Geography and Earth Science students for coursework and research projects when not in use for class.

GIS Lab Assistant Helping a Student
Students Working in GIS Lab
Students Participating in Mapathon
Bo Kim in the GIS Research Lab

GIS Lab Schedules (204A and 245 Cowley Hall) - Spring 2021

204A Cowley Hall expanding section

204 Cowley GIS Lab Schedule for Spring 2021

245 Cowley Hall expanding section

245 Cowley GIS Lab Schedule for Spring 2021

Available GIS Software

ESRI’s spatial analysis and mapping products are used throughout business, government, and academia for decision making, high impact visuals, and geospatial research. ArcGIS software from ESRI is available free of charge to all faculty, staff, and students at UW La Crosse through the University of Wisconsin System License. Directions for accessing the various software options available to the UWL community are provided below. If you have questions about downloading, installing, and licensing the software, submit a request using this link to Steve Fulton – the Department of Geography and Earth Science GIS Lab Manager.

If you are interested in learning more about how to use the GIS software, the Department of Geography and Earth Science at UWL offers numerous geospatial techniques courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Students can earn a majorminor, or certificate in Geographic Information Science.

ArcGIS Online expanding section

ArcGIS Online is a cloud-based GIS software offered by ESRI. ArcGIS Online is available free of charge to UWL faculty, staff, and students.

  • To access ArcGIS Online, log in to uwl.maps.arcgis.com with your university credentials (username and password).
ArcGIS Pro expanding section

ArcGIS Pro is the next generation of desktop GIS software offered by ESRI. ArcGIS Pro is available free of charge to UWL faculty, staff and students.

The following options are available to access ArcGIS Pro:

  • Students taking a GIS course from the Department of Geography or Earth Science course can download the ArcGIS Pro executable from the Student Software folder in the GEO_Data shared drive. To license ArcGIS Pro, open an account on uwl.maps.arcgis.com and sign in when using the program. A Windows computer is needed that meets these minimum system requirements to use ArcGIS Pro.
  • Faculty and staff that require a license for their work computer should submit a request to the GIS lab manager using this link.
ArcGIS Desktop (ArcMap) expanding section

ESRI is transitioning away from ArcGIS Desktop and is suggesting that users move to ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Online. ArcGIS Desktop is available free of charge to UWL faculty, staff, and students.

The following options are available to access ArcGIS Desktop:

  • Students taking a GIS course from the Department of Geography and Earth Science course can download the ArcGIS Desktop executable from the Student Software folder in the GEO_Data shared drive. Students must submit a request to the GIS lab manager to obtain the license code before using the software. A Windows computer is needed that meets these minimum system requirements to use ArcGIS Desktop
  • Faculty and staff that require a license for their work computer should submit a request to the GIS lab manager using this link.
  • Any faculty, staff, or student can log into a computer in Murphy Library or the other general access computer labs. ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro are installed and licensed on them for all users.
ERDAS Imagine Student Licenses expanding section

ERDAS Imagine by Hexagon Geospatial is a remote sensing software used by geographic imaging professionals. ERDAS has some similarities to ArcGIS, but it is more focused on processing and analyzing images acquired through remote sensing methodologies. Licenses to this software are available free of charge to UWL students.

Additional Software in GIS Labs expanding section

UWL has access to other ESRI products such as Business Analyst through the current license agreement. If you are interested in this, or other ESRI products available to the UWL community, submit a request to the GIS lab manager using this link.

The Department of Geography and Earth Science houses two GIS computer labs, each outfitted with 30 computers. Every computer hosts a wide variety of cutting-edge, industry-standard software, with applications ranging from geospatial analysis to visual editing and design.

This list includes

ArcGIS Adobe Design Premium eCognition ENVI
ERDAS Imagine Feature Analyst Hypack IBM SPSS Statistics
LAStools Leica Cyclone MAPublisher Pix4d
Quick Terrain Modeler RStudio Terrset Trimble Pathfinder Office
USGS Velocity Mapping Toolbox

The GIS computer labs are not general access labs open to the full campus community. The software in these labs can be used by faculty and students for approved educational purposes. Contact the Chair of Geography and Earth Science, Colin Belby, to inquire about use of the software in the GIS computer labs.

How to Clean GIS Lab Workspace

The videos below are designed to introduce you to GIS Lab practices and protocols.

Introduction to GIS Lab Manager expanding section

Steven Fulton is our GIS Lab manager. To learn more about Mr. Fulton, see his introductory video below. If you have questions regarding the use of the GIS lab computers and the remote desktop application, please contact Mr. Fulton. He is typically available in 241 Cowley during the times identified at this link. Mr. Fulton can also be reached outside of his office hours by emailing him at gislab@uwlax.edu. Mr. Fulton does not maintain a full-time work schedule. If you need immediate assistance with your computer, you should reach out to the ITS Eagle Help Desk.

Process for Accessing GEO Drives and Lab Remote Desktop

Included here is the process for accessing the UWL drives and virtual desktops. Each document below is accompanied by a video tutorial that is linked near the end of the document’s first paragraph. It is recommended that you use a combination of the PDF and the video.

Connecting to UWL's Network and Mapping Drives expanding section

If all you want to do is connect to the UWL network and map your personal computer to the GEODATA and/or U drives:

  1. First, connect your computer to UWL’s network by following the instructions below.
  2. Second, map your computer to the GEODATA and/or U drive by following the instructions below.

Connecting to UWL's VPN (Virtual Private Network)

These directions provide guidance on connecting to UWL remotely so that individuals may access their files saved on the network (e.g., U drive, GEODATA drives). These directions are taken from those provided by ITS. A video tutorial on connecting to the virtual desktop from a Windows PC can also be viewed at this link.

What is the VPN (Virtual Private Network)

UWL's VPN service allows any UWL associate to connect to campus remotely from any available network connection almost anywhere in the world: including from home, from many hotels, and even from within some company networks.

  • Over the internet - Faculty, staff, and students can log in at vpn.uwlax.edu with their NetID username and password to access campus resources, like network storage.
  • From UWL computers - All campus laptops are deployed with a VPN client (Cisco AnyConnect) that faculty and staff members can use. Logging into the VPN client allows access to campus resources like network storage.

Important Items to Keep in Mind when Using the VPN

  • If you are on the VPN, do not stream anything (e.g., music and videos) - this will slow everything down.
  • Disconnect from the VPN when you are finished using it.

How do I Get Started?

Detailed directions for installing the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client can be found in the following KnowledgeBase articles created by ITS.

Detailed directions on using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN once it is installed can be found in the following KnowledgeBase articles created by ITS.

*NOTE: Upon initial login, for the first time you may need to enter in vpn.uwlax.edu into the empty box before being able to continue on.

Login for UWL VPN

Mapping the GEODATA Drives

These directions provide guidance on how to map the GEODATA and U drives to your computer if you are on campus and connected to the campus network OR if you are connected to the campus network through the Cisco VPN client. These directions are for mapping network drives from a Windows PC. A video tutorial on mapping the network drives from a Windows PC can also be viewed at the following link.

Important Items to Keep in Mind When using the VPN (Virtual Private Network)

  • If you are on the VPN, do not stream anything (e.g., music and videos) - this will slow everything down.
  • Disconnect from the VPN when you are finished using it.

How Do I Get Started?

  1. Connect to the UWL network through the VPN if mapping drives on your personal (local) computer. See the directions provided in a separate document and video tutorial.
  2. Open the File Explorer (looks like a yellow folder)
  3. Single click on the "This PC" icon located on the left side of the window.
  4. Click the "Map network drive" dropdown found at the top of the window and select "Map network drive."Directions to Map Network Drive
  5. Select the appropriate drive letter from the dropdown and enter the folder path as follows (see image on the screenshot after #7)
    1. U: \\FilePVS01\Personnel\yourusername
    2. T: \\GEODATA\GEO_Faculty\ (note that students don’t have access to this drive)
    3. S: \\GEODATA\GEO_Students\
    4. R: \\GEODATA\GEO_data\
  6. Place a check mark in the "Reconnect at sign-in" box so your computer automatically connects to the mapped drives if you are on the campus network.
  7. Click Finish

GEODATA Folder Path

Connecting to the UWL Windows Virtual Desktop expanding section

If you want to connect to the UWL windows virtual desktop (WVD) offered by Open Access Labs (NOT the GIS labs) follow these instructions provided by the ITS KnowledgeBase.

Connecting to the Geography Department’s GIS Lab Remote Desktop expanding section

If you want to connect to the GIS lab remote desktop, follow the instructions below.

The GIS lab remote desktop has all the open-access lab software plus the Geography Department’s specialized software. 

Remotely Connecting to a GIS Lab Workstation

These directions provide guidance on remotely connecting to a computer housed in one of the Geography and Earth Science Department's GIS labs (204A or 245 Cowley). The remote desktop option is available to students with access to a folder on the GEO drive. A video tutorial on remotely connecting to a GIS lab computer can also be viewed at the following link.

What is the GIS Remote Desktop

The remote desktop allows GIS students to use their Windows-based computer or Mac to virtually connect to one of the approximately 30 GIS lab workstations that are available. The virtual desktop will look like those in Cowley 204A and 245. Students will have access to all the software installed on the GIS workstations. The computing takes place on the GIS workstation, eliminating the need to install and run software on a home computer.

Important Items to Keep in Mind When Using the GIS Remote Desktop

  • When working on assignments, it is recommended you download the assignment instructions to your (local) computer for easier viewing.
  • If you are using the VPN, do not stream anything - this will slow things down.
  • Disconnect from the remote desktop when finished AND disconnect from the VPN.
  • Do not attempt to shut down the remote desktop.
  • Save your work to either your Student Drive, U Drive, Google Drive, or OneDrive.

How to Remotely Connect to a GIS Lab Computer

  1. If working off-campus, first install and connect to the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client using the directions provided in a separate document. If working on-campus using the UWL network, do not run the VPN client.
  2. Go to the following link using your preferred web browser.
  3. Select one of the available GIS lab computers by clicking on "Connect."
  4. Download and open the connection file by clicking "Download" on the window that appears.Remotely Connect to a GIS Lab Computer
  5. Open the *.rdp file that is downloaded. If you receive the message below, click "Connect."Remote Desktop Connect Message
  6. Enter your NetID and password. Click "OK." The remote desktop will open on your computer.Entering Credentials to Access Remote Desktop
  7. You may need to map your network drives (e.g., GEO_Students, GEO_Data, U) if they are not listed when in the File Explorer. Directions for doing so are provided in a separate account.

Do not save files to the remote desktop. Use your student folder on the GEO server or cloud storage to save data.

Remote Desktop Software Issue

There are two pieces of software that are known to not start properly in Remote Desktop. They are Applied Imagery Quick Terrain Modeler and Google Earth Pro. If you get an error or nothing happens when you try to start one in a remote desktop then the following should fix the problem.

If the problem persists email gislab@uwlax.edu or contact your instructor.

To Fix the issue -

Quick Terrain Modeler expanding section

Quick Terrain Modeler Fix

  • After connecting to a GIS Lab Remote Desktop right-click on an empty part of the desktop and select "Display settings"
  • Then select "Graphics settings"
  • Leave the pull-down menu set to "Desktop app" and click on browse
  • Browse to and select  "C:\Program Files\QTModeler_820_UX\QTModeler.exe"  and click add
  • In the grey box titled "QT Modeler" select "Options"
  • then select "Power saving" and the "Save"

If you are asked about the license:

  • In the window titled "FlexNet License Finder"
  • select "Specify the License Server System" and then  "Next>"
  • in the new window, enter "27021@wngapp07-new" in the text box and select "Next>"
  • Finally select "Finish"
Google Earth Pro expanding section

Google Earth Pro Fix

  • After connecting to a GIS Lab Remote Desktop right-click on an empty part of the desktop and select "Display settings"
  • Then select "Graphics settings"
  • Leave the pull-down menu set to "Desktop app" and click on browse
  • Browse to and select  "C:\Program Files\Google\Google Earth Pro\client\googleearth.exe"  and click add
  • In the grey box titled "QT Modeler" select "Options"
  • then select "Power saving" and the "Save"