ASPRS 2008 Annual Conference – A Grand Success!

The ASPRS 2008 Annual Conference was held April 28 – May 2 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. Nearly 1500 attended the many conference activities.

This year’s conference, Bridging the Horizons: New Frontiers in Geospatial Collaboration, opened with the Keynote Address given in a panel format by a group of geospatial industry leaders who discussed their opinions of where the industry is heading and what can be done to prepare for the future. The panelists were Peter Becker, product manager of ESRI; Dr. Tina Cary, president of Cary and Associates; Lewis Graham, president and chief technical officer, GeoCue Corporation; Dr. Terrence Keating, senior vice president and CTO, Aero-Metric, Inc. and George Southard, vice president Americas, Digital Imaging, ERDAS. The panel was moderated by industry expert, Mike Renslow, Renslow Mapping Services.  An audio recording of this presentation is available at An audience of more than 600 found this panel discussion very timely.

Fourteen workshops, many filled to capacity, were offered on the two days preceding the conference, and covered a wide array of topics including Professional Airborne Digital Mapping Systems – An Overview; Topics in Orthophoto Production; Thermal Remote Sensing, Becoming a SAR User, Hysperspectral Image Processing and Feature Extraction: Geospatial Information Retrieval, and Remote Sensing of Wetlands, as well as a specially designed workshop for those seeking ASPRS certification.

User group meetings, with record attendance, were also held on Monday and Tuesday sponsored by Applanix, ASD, Inc., BAE Systems, DIMAC, Dudley Thompson Mapping Corporation, ENVI, ERDAS, ESRI, GeoCue, INPHO, Intergraph, Merrick, Microsoft, Optech, and QCoherent.    

A General Session opened the conference on Thursday with presentations by Kass Green, ASPRS president. who spoke on Increasing ASPRS’s Impact in a Time of Global Climate Change and James Plasker, ASPRS executive director, who gave a report on the State of the Society.   Both of these talks are available on line at

The Student Advisory Council of ASPRS took a very active role in this year’s conference for the first time by organizing, and moderating seven sessions directed at students and young professionals. These included such subjects as “Getting a Job,” “Successfully Entering the Workforce,” “Scholarships and Grants,” “Organizing and Constructing a Scientific Paper,” “Grammar for Educated Writers of Scientific English,” and “The Publication Process – From Submission to Print.”

Nearly 300 technical papers covered many diverse topics including Satellite Imagery, Natural Resource Applications, Geospatial Data Accuracy/Error Assessment, Feature-based Registration, Geophysical Applications, Geographic Information Science Licensing Issues, Environmental/Public Health Applications, Photogrammetric Triangulation Models, Vegetation Dynamics, Photogrammetric DEM Extraction, and Invasive Species Mapping were presented.

Over 60 posters on display rounded out the conference theme of Bridging the Horizons.

To allow vendors the opportunity to present their products and training in a well-defined format, the program committee set up a one-hour segment on Thursday for these presentations. Six concurrent sessions were held with a total of 13 companies, agencies and universities participating. Good responses from their audiences were reported.

A very popular feature at the ASPRS Annual Conference for a third year was the Hot Topics segment. This is an open discussion, one-hour format, for all conference attendees. A poll taken approximately 90 days before the conference of the then registered attendees identified the topics they wished to discuss. The most requested were The Voyages of the Starship “Enterprise GIS;” Advances in Global Earth Observation: From Landsat Forward; The Need for K-12 Remote Sensing and GIS Education;, Geospatial Professional Guidelines; and, Advantages of Simultaneous Aerial Lidar/Imagery Acquisition.  These sessions were all very well attended.

An Exhibit Hall with 80 plus booths showcased the latest in products and services of suppliers worldwide. Exhibit Hall traffic was brisk during the entire conference. Sales of exhibit space for the 2009 Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, which will mark the 75th Anniversary of ASPRS, were vigorous, indicating the success of this year’s event.

The ASPRS tradition of honoring members who have contributed greatly to the field and to the Society continued this year with a Memorial Address for John Edward “Jack” Estes. Dr. Estes, a long-time faculty member at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was the Director of the Geography Remote Sensing Unit. His primary research interests revolved around the basic and applied use of remote sensing and geographic information systems for analysis of earth resources. Dr. John Jensen, a former student of Dr. Estes, presented the highlights of his life.

Two student activities that were inaugurated at the 2007 Annual Conference, continued this year. The first, a “Speed Networking” session, was held on the evening prior to the Keynote Session as an opportunity for students and young professionals to meet. Attendees exchanged introductions during a three-minute timed period, then moved on to meet someone else. Many made acquaintances that carried them through the week and may encourage them to keep in touch in the future. The second activity was a guided tour of the Exhibit Hall, hosted by the ASPRS Sustaining Members. Students met the exhibitors face-to-face and were able to ask questions about software, services, and possible job openings.

Numerous awards were made throughout the conference to many deserving recipients including three ASPRS Fellows, student scholarships, and ASPRS Region awards. Several social events rounded out this stellar conference for 2008, including the Columbia River Region Welcome Reception on Tuesday evening, April 29; the Exhibitors’ Reception on Wednesday evening, April 30; and, An Evening at the World Forestry Center on Thursday evening, May 1.

Founded in 1934, ASPRS is an international professional organization of 6,000 geospatial data professionals. ASPRS is devoted to advancing knowledge and improving understanding of the mapping sciences to promote responsible application of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems and supporting technologies. For additional information about ASPRS, visit our web site at