Dr. Gary W. Coutu


Title: Professor, Chair of the Geography & Planning Department

Location: 505 BPM Center

Email: GCoutu@wcupa.edu

Phone: 610-738-0522

Lab: 610-436-2644


Dr. Coutu is a Professor of Geography and the Chair of the Department of Geography and Planning. He has been a faculty member since Fall 2005. His area of expertise is Geographic Information Systems (GIS), with over 30 years of experience. He has worked on GIS projects in a dozen countries, specializing in GIS for national and local development. The core of his GIS-based research has been environmental GIS, watershed analysis, and data collection with sensors. His work in GIS ranges from location analytics (business mapping and analysis), field mapping and data collection, 3D modeling, urban mapping and analysis, and emerging geospatial technologies.

Dr. Coutu mainly teaches freshman and upper-level undergraduate/graduate GIS courses. He has taught and collaborates in developing the Planning Design Studios for the Planning Program. He also has an active travel program related to Asian, European, and Latin American travel courses. He has taken students to Thailand, China, Costa Rica, and Spain. Dr. Coutu's approach to travel and teaching is very hands-on. He introduces his students to travel by giving them local experiences and focuses on local perspectives and issues regarding international tourism, enabling his students to travel on their own. His approach to geospatial technologies is similar. He brings new software and projects into the GIS program and introduces students to new technologies through community-based projects and modeling. His passion is to bring the excitement and promise of new technologies into the classroom to challenge students to apply these to real-world projects.

Professional Experience


Department of Geography and Planning

West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania

Faculty member since Fall 2005. Teaching undergraduate and graduate geographic information systems courses as well as world and physical geography. Serving as faculty advisor for undergraduate internships and graduate student thesis and project work. Manager of the Department’s Geographic Information Systems lab. Supervising work of 2 Graduate Assistants in the GIS lab. Faculty advisor for the Geography Club. GIS advisor for projects with the Delaware Nature Society and the Red Clay Creek watershed. Integrating environmental models into curriculum- CommunityViz planning model, HAZUS- Multihazard Loss Estimation Software and Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT.) Department representative to the Academic Advising Committee and the APSCUF Delegate.

Department Chair:

Geographic Information Systems and Computer Aided Design Department

Temple College, Temple, Texas

Overview (2001-2004): Selected as Department Chair of the GIS/CAD Department in Fall 2004. Fulltime faculty, in the Geographic Information Systems and Geography Departments of Temple College (newly established faculty position). This position was established in Fall 2001. Serve as Phi Theta Kappa (Honor Society) advisor. Assisted college in development of a 2-year AAS GIS degree and a one-year GIS certificate. Working with the Central Texas Technical Preparation program to articulate GIS, computer and drafting courses from the high school curriculum into GIS degree plans. Active in community education initiatives, which includes Archeology and GIS, business GIS, health GIS, cultural geography and the development of local environmental monitoring methods. Leading a Geography/GIS field school in Thailand during summer 2005. Recently selected as a Phi Theta Kappa Honors Faculty. Phi Theta Kappa chooses 20 of its advisors from 1,200 chapters to serve as faculty to guide its yearly honors research topic activities.

Department Seminars: Combined a Cultural Geography course with the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Topic, Popular Culture: Shaping and Reflecting Who We Are. This seminar/course combined a series of satellite-delivered lectures on popular culture with an introductory course in cultural geography. Organized a seminar course, A Sense of Place, in Cultural Geography with the Institute for the Humanities in Salado. This seminar presented 6 lectures to students and the public on topics on place and culture. Temple College presented 3 lectures while the Institute sponsored the remaining three. Presented a field-trip course in GIS and Cultural Geography which accompanied A Sense of Place seminar series. Field methods in GIS were taught in conjunction with a series of field trips offered to the community through the Institute for the Humanities in Salado. Trips included mapping/visits to local artisan workshops, historic cemeteries, tour/mapping of the Salado Creek watershed and area groundwater district, landcover mapping and prairie restoration and a study of Texas geology in conjunction with a regional stonecutter/sculpture studio. Other community-based courses include a series of Special Topics in GIS courses. This series has included; 1) Field-GIS basics (2001) with mobile software/hardware and internet map server components, 2) GIS in the Cemetery, (2002) a course taught in conjunction with the Anthropology Department (students used CAD and GIS to create a map and database of a local, historic cemetery combined with lectures on necrogeography and the anthropology of death,) 3) GIS in Lake Management, (2003) a course using raster and 3-D GIS analysis tool which mapped resources and area around Lake Belton (worked with Corps of Engineers managers to turn bathymetric data into a 3-D model of the lake and integrated pre-lake aerial photography into the 3-D model,) 4) GIS and Archeology, (2004) a field-based course with the Archeology Department that examined Texas Rock Art subjects and developed GIS models of canyon areas that contain rock art sites. This course took students into the field around Seminole Canyon for 4 days of archeological and field-mapping training.

Courses/Curriculum: Expanded geography offerings from one introductory class to five courses in addition to seven GIS courses. Increased number of students in geography courses from 10 to 70 per semester in three years. Courses include Introduction to Geography, Physical Geography, World Regional Geography, Cultural Geography, Economic Geography and Geographic Information Systems courses. GIS courses include beginning through advanced GIS, raster GIS and special topics courses (Health and Business GIS.) Part-time instructor at Tarleton State University Central Texas (Texas A&M Central Texas) teaching senior level course in Geographic and GIS Analysis. Developed three Geography (World Regional, Cultural and Physical Geography) and one Introduction to GIS courses for internet-based instruction. To date have taught 7 course sections (around 85 students) as distance–learning courses, provided to the State of Texas via the Virtual College of Texas. Reviewed GIS textbook chapters for McGraw-Hill Publishers.

Led a field school in Southern Thailand during summer 2005. This course consists of studies of Thai culture, geography, economics, religion and language through travel in Bangkok and the southern province of Krabi. This course includes field work in geography and GIS mapping in Tourism Geography. Lecture is combined with field trip activities (geology and rock-climbing, coastal geomorphology and coral reef snorkeling, etc.) and GIS mapping. Supporting growth of physical science related curriculum including Physical Geology, Soil Science and Crop Science.

Advising- Serve as Phi Theta Kappa advisor. Cultural Geography/Popular Culture seminar and course provided via distance-learning to all Community Colleges with PTK chapters and VCT connections. Accompanied PTK members to International Conventions in Nashville, Anaheim and Minneapolis. Selected by PTK International organization to serve as an Honors Faulty advisor (Popular Culture topic.) Worked with members on service projects which include mapping of welfare and workforce development facilities to the local public transportation network. Current project includes cancer mapping in conjunction with the Temple College Health Education Division.

Community Projects- Worked closely with a number of local organizations combining geographic/GIS research with undergraduate studies. This includes cultural mapping, health services and environmental health, archeology, business GIS and environmental monitoring. A number of students have obtained paid internships and fulltime jobs to continue work on classroom projects. Projects have included cemetery mapping which created a walking tour, database and map of the Hillcrest Cemetery. Archeology projects have mapped location of cave shelters and rock art and created 3-D maps of site areas. Resource maps of springs and local soils have also been integrated into analysis. Environmental mapping has included spring, stream and watershed mapping. Students have integrated water quality studies into these mapping exercises. Business GIS projects have integrated site, customer and network analysis into service and delivery analysis. Demographic and census data studies have been included into analysis. GIS and CAD students have worked together to compile a facilities and campus map for Temple College. This has included mapping of all campus infrastructure, plant beds, trees, buildings and parking. This has been integrated into an interpolated 6-inch elevation model of the campus with 3-D buildings. Students had also completed a 3-D application of downtown Temple with interpolated 6-inch elevation contours, buildings and selected infrastructure. A number of articles have been published in local newspapers about these student-based projects.

Project Scientist/Senior Systems Analyst: Blackland Research Center, Texas A & M University, Temple, Texas

Research projects included the Watershed and Sub-watershed Delineation Projects for Texas to update and delineate 11 and 14 digit watershed boundaries. This project examined GIS-based methods to automate watershed delineation processes. Methods were evaluated based upon editing/accuracy requirements, field verification and interfaces with hydrologic models. Obtained funding for 3 of the 4 contracts to complete the entire State of Texas. Organized and presented seminars on the developed methodology. Presented results at State and regional conferences. Results have been incorporated into the National watershed delineation standards.

Served as GIS advisor for the GIS: School to Work Curriculum Development Project with the BellNET (Bell County Network for Educational Technology) program. Participating in Distance Learning activities. Trained over 100 high school teachers in GIS through the Regional Educational Service Center. Developed Introduction to GIS curriculum for high school teachers. Worked with local high schools on environmental science projects using GIS. Assisted teachers and students present results to Texas A&M University Geography department using distance learning technology. Presented results at State and National conferences.

Other projects included the Food and Agriculture Organization: Participatory Watershed Management Training Project GIS and watershed modeling training activities. This project developed and delivered training modules for GIS and Hydrologic/Crop Management models to Himalayan watershed countries. Experience with Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) and Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) hydrologic and crop models. Trained scientists and technicians from China, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Bhutan and other countries at ICIMOD in Katmandu, Nepal. Developed materials and held follow-up training at YSP University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan, India.

Developed a prototype World Soils Information System for the Integrated Information Management Lab at Blackland Research Center. Linked data sets between ARC/INFO and GRASS GIS software. Ran this system through an internet map server. Managed GIS software and provided UNIX support at Blackland Research Center. Responsibilities also included specification, delivery, support and training for GIS and other software, UNIX operating systems and hardware for GIS labs at various international agriculture research centers such as CIMMYT (Mexico), ICRISAT Sahelian Center (Niger) and ICRISAT (India). This included a number of site visits to work with lab technicians and scientists to integrate GIS into their research projects. 1996-2001

Program Manager/GIS Advisor:

Geographic Information Systems Program

Thunder & Associates, Inc., East African Region

Responsible for program development and management. Procured over $300,000 of project funding to provide GIS consulting and training services. Recruited and managed program and project staff. Secured ARC/INFO Distributorship for Thunder in East Africa, covering eight countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea and Somalia.) Developed ESRI certified GIS training program and facility. Experienced trainer in GIS, database management systems and various software packages. Conducted GIS seminars in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Served on GIS technical advisory panels. Provided GIS applications and data research for ICRAF projects in Indonesia and Thailand. Provided technical support for Thunder GIS proposals in Malaysia. Clients included United Nations Environmental Programme, Kenya Wildlife Service, Government of Ethiopia, USAID, Kenya Agriculture Research Institute and International Center for Research in Agroforestry, among others. Project team leader in the Ministry of Finance, Value Added Tax Department database design and implementation project.


Presidential Management Intern: Office of Space Science and Applications National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Wash., D.C.

Coordinated Local Area Network interconnectivity design for over 800 nodes and 9 LANs. Supported planning activities for the NASA Science Internet. Responsible for reviewing technical documents for computer system and supercomputer acquisitions and Local Area Network designs. Policy analyst for ACTS Communication Satellite Program. Reviewed and drafted testimony for Congressional review. Budget Analyst for Goddard Space Flight Center. Prepared reports and correspondence for the Senior Assistant Administrator. Represented the Office of Space Science at Information System related workshops. Prepared Launch Briefing books for the Office of the Vice-President. Launch Logistics Analyst for the Cosmic Background Explorer and the Hubble Space Telescope. Member of the science launch team for the Hubble Space Telescope. Attended Presidential Management Intern development seminars and training. 1989-90

U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer (Agricultural Extension Agent): Royal Thai Ministry of Agriculture: Krabi, Thailand

Served as a Peace Corps volunteer in southern Thailand. Initiated, designed, and acquired funding for an Agricultural Training Center. Organized farmer cooperatives. Directed agricultural projects. Organized 4-H groups at the village level. Developed and marketed cottage industries. Completed language, cultural and agricultural training. Conducted university English seminars. Experience working within the Royal Thai Government system and Thai culture. Prepared monthly progress reports in Thai. Able to speak, read and write Thai. 1985-87.


  • Ph.D., Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. 2001
  • MSPMP, H. John Heinz III, School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. 1989
  • BA, Department of Philosophy, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. 1984

Training and Sponsored Seminars

  • NSF-Sponsored Workshop: Teaching Public Policy in the Earth Sciences, American Geophysical Union, April 20-23, 2006
  • NSF-Sponsored Workshop: Designing Effective and Innovative Courses in the Geosciences, Hamilton College, July 27-31, 2003
  • NSF-Sponsored Workshop: Priorities in the Solid Earth Sciences, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver Colorado, October 26, 2002
  • NSF-Sponsored Workshop: Workshop for Early Career Faculty in the Geosciences: Teaching, Research, and Managing Your Career, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, June 1-6, 2002
  • Regional 12 Regional Educational Service Center Sponsored: Space Station Educator’s Conference, Houston, Texas, February, 2000
  • Solaris 2.x System Administration Essentials 1996
  • Solaris 2.x System Administration 1996
  • ArcView and Avenue 1994
  • Introduction to ARC/INFO 1993
  • Software Quality Assurance 1993
  • Advanced Revelation database software Development 1992
  • Internetworking with TCP/IP 1989
  • Local Area Network Troubleshooting 1987

Organized Training and Seminars

  • 2004, ArcGIS Training, Corps of Engineers
  • 2003, Sense of Place Seminar Series, Temple College and the Institute for Humanities in Salado
  • 2002, Introduction to GIS/ArcView, Texas Department of Health
  • 2000,Introduction to GIS/ArcView, Central Texas Regional Educational Service Center
  • 1999, GIS School to Work: Training Program for Teachers and Students, Central Texas Work Force Development Board
  • 1999, Watershed Delineation and GIS, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • 1999, GIS and Modeling, YSP University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan, India
  • 1998, Hydrologic and Crop Modeling and GIS, UN/FAO, ICIMOD, Katmandu, Nepal
  • 1995, Introduction to GIS/ArcView, ICRISAT Sahelian Center, Niamey, Niger

Publications: Conference Papers & Presentations

  • 2006, Presentation, Using GIS in Medical Geography- Avian Flu Pandemics, 3E Summer Emerging Science and Technology Institute, July 19, 2006
  • 2006, Presentation- GIS Tools for Watershed Delineation: Public Policy Perspectives
  • Teaching Public Policy in the Earth Sciences, American Geophysical Union, April 21, 2006
  • 2005, Presentation- Using GIS in Community Planning and Management, Williamson County Economic Development Board, Taylor, Texas
  • 2004, Presentation- GIS in Archeology, Texas Archeological Society Field School, Texas
  • 2004, Presentation- GIS in Field Archeology: Rock Art in Val Verde County, Texas Archeological Society Directors Meeting, Temple, Texas
  • 2003, Presentation- Mapping Lake Belton: History, Archeology and Environment, Paper # 895, ESRI User’s Conference, Sand Diego, CA
  • 2003, Presentation- Using Geographic Information Systems in Health Education and Action, Nursing Leadership Conference: Partners and Public Health, Austin, Texas.
  • 2003, Presentation Co-Author, Is Drainage Basin Compactness Scale Invariant? New Mexico Water Resources Institute Conference
  • 2002, Poster Presentation- GIS Programs for Teaching Environmental Science and Geography- Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver Colorado
  • 2002, Presentation- Building GIS Curriculum Bridges within Community Colleges, ESRI Education Convention, San Diego, California
  • 2001, Presentation- Exploring the Effects of Observational Scale upon Environmental Policy Analysis, Dissertation. Department of Geography, Texas A&M University.
  • 2000, Presentation- Using GIS in K-12 Classroom: Opportunities and Applications, Tech-Prep Annual Conference, Austin Texas.
  • 2000, Presentation- Using Distance Education Technology Combining K-12 GIS Curriculum and Community Service at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • 1999, Presentation- Introducing GIS into Distance Learning Curriculum: The GIS School-to-Work Project, Trans Texas Videoconferencing Network Users Conference, College Station, Texas.
  • 1999, Presentation- Methods and Progress in Subwatershed Delineation in Texas, National Watershed Conference, Austin, Texas.
  • 1999, Presentation- Watershed Delineation in the South of Texas, GIS Texas: Annual Conference, Austin, Texas
  • 1998, Presentation- Using GIS to Delineate and Model Watersheds, Southwestern Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • 1993, Presentation- Using GIS in Health: Opportunities in Ethiopia, ESRI Middle East Users Conference, Cairo, Egypt.
  • 1992, Opportunities to Use GIS in East Africa, Presentation to Jack Dangermond and Staff at the ESRI European Users Conference, Athens, Greece.


  • 2006, Global Perspectives for Curriculum Integration Workshop, Presidential Initiative for Implementing the Plan for Excellence and the Office of the Provost, $400
  • 2004, Curriculum Development: GIS in Homeland Security, Texas Technical Preparation Consortium, $1,000
  • 2004, GIS Training for Army Corps of Engineers, Central Texas Regional Office, $1,950
  • 2004, Phi Theta Kappa Honors Topic Satellite Seminar Series, Popular Culture: Shaping and Reflecting Who We Are, Temple College Administration Grant, $600
  • 2003, A Sense of Place Seminar Series, Institute for Humanities in Salado, Temple College Administration Grant, $1,000
  • 2002, GIS Training, Region 7 Texas Department of Health, $2,500
  • 2001, Texas State TMDL Program Areas I: Watershed and Sub-watershed Delineation, FY2001 Clean Water Act: Section 319(h), Blackland Research Center, 5/01/01 –8/31/01, $57,290
  • 2000, GIS Curriculum for Distance Education, Central Texas Tech Prep Consortium, $2,500
  • 2000, Texas State Boundary Areas: Watershed and Sub-watershed Delineation, FY2001 Clean Water Act: Section 319(h), Texas Agricultural Experiment Station – Blackland Research Center, $105,299

Graduate/Post-Doctoral Honors/Scholarships

  • Phi Theta Kappa Honors Faculty, 2004
  • Frederick Favor Award, 1989
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Heinz School Public Service Scholarship, 1987

Professional Organizations

  • Association of American Geographers
  • National Association of Geoscience Teachers
  • Texas Archeological Society
  • Geological Society of America


  • 2006- Committee Chair for Amy Frazier, Master of Arts in Geography, West Chester University
  • 2006- Committee Member for Mike McGeehin, Master of Arts in Geography, West Chester University
  • 2002, Committee Member for Monica Allen, MS in Environmental Science, Baylor University
  • 2001-Present, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society Advisor
  • 2000, Temple College GIS Advisory Committee
  • 1999-2000, Regional 12 Regional Educational Service Center GIS Advisor

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