GIS at UMass-Lowell: Alex Brown, instructor (2006-2015)

  (Dec 2015)

Alex Brown <>
Instructor, GIS and Remote Sensing (2006-2015)

Department of Environmental, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
University of Massachusetts Lowell =

(617) 308-9456 mobile

Dr Chu delivers Tripathy Memorial Lecture
Nov 16 2016
Past US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics, delivered UMass Lowell’s annual Tripathy Memorial Lecture on “Climate Change and a Path to Clean Energy.” In it, Dr Chu laid out alarming trends in carbon emissions, sea-level rise and global temperatures, noting that although the consequences of these phenomena may not be felt for generations, they will nonetheless be dire. “There is compelling evidence that Earth’s climate is changing and humans are responsible for it. We only have one chance at correcting it and we have to do it,” he said. Dr Chu's Tripathy Lecture, his presentation on his work as Energy Secretary, will be available on the UML web pages (

The University of Massachusetts is the first major public university to divest from fossil fuel and energy investments.   I'm proud to have been a part of this, through UML's Climate Change Initiative.

For most of my forty (!) odd years as an engineer -- a designer, creator and maintainer of useful things, using physical science training and experience -- I've been a member of an unusual large professional organization, the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).  This field of engineering has touched and transformed almost every aspect of modern society, from power generation and distribution, for home, commercial and industrial illumination, to transportation and communication, and especially education of young people around the world.  IEEE's member communities and societies have been a great resource to my own continuing education, especially:

  • IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (IEEE-GRSS)
  • IEEE Committee on Earth Observation (ICEO)
  • IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (IEEE-OES)
  • IEEE Communications Society (IEEE-COMSOC)
IEEE's deepest roots are in the electric power generation and transmission industry, which has its own strong needs for computer-based mapping, or "Geographic Information Systems (GIS)", the subject matter I've taught at UML for a decade. A recent "Atlas of Electricity" by ESRI, the most prominent vendor of GIS software, whose products I've taught to largely non-technical environmental engineers for that decade, combines the two nicely using ArcGIS Online, a new ESRI product:

An Atlas of Electricity -- a Story Map by ESRI

"Electricity is integral to the modern American lifestyle. But the generation and transmission of electricity is a complex, opaque process. Here's how it all works."


Much of my recent work has been in education, where the transformative power of electronic communications has given us the Internet, and taught us the necessity of working together on problems which seem beyond our individual powers to solve.