Remote Sensing Grows into a Hot, New Field

RIT’s Lab Taps Industry Needs

Images of earth snapped from satellites or airplanes can help benchmark changes in fresh-water lakes, assess property damage after a natural disaster, explore for oil and monitor crop growth.

Commercial and governmental aerospace companies that collect data from satellite or airborne sensors are fueling the growing market and creating a demand for a new type of highly skilled employee.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science has unveiled a laboratory ready to tap the evolving industry of remote sensing and fill a uniquely skilled workforce. The Laboratory for Advanced Spectral Sensing (LASS) will increase the number of trained experts in remote sensing and conduct research on behalf of corporations and government agencies.

Established as part of the First in Class Initiative to facilitate partnerships between the university, industry and government, RIT launches LASS with research projects involving Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Eastman Kodak Co., ITT Industries and the U.S. Government National Reconnaissance Office. RIT and its partners will develop electronic-image sensors, create software to model electronic-imaging systems and devise new ways to measure the properties of materials as seen by these systems.

"The idea is to establish cooperative agreements with companies and conduct cutting-edge research for them," says Michael Richardson, CIS distinguished researcher, who helped create the lab.

"Government and industry are anxious to hire highly skilled individuals who can meet the demands of building sensors and analyzing image data from the next generation of remote sensing systems," says John Schott, director of LASS and the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Group. "To meet that need we have designed a larger research program to educate more students. In the end, the sponsors, the students and the university all benefit."

Robert Kohler, a member of RIT’s Board of Trustees and retired executive vice president and general manager of TRW Avionics and Surveillance Group, agrees. "LASS represents RIT’s ability to anticipate the need for high-tech talents," he says. "Trained specialists in remote sensing are in demand now, and that demand is increasing. LASS will position the University and the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science as an important resource for industry and government. It’s a great example of the University’s First in Class Initiative."


The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, part of the College of Science at RIT, offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees and the nation’s only Ph.D. in imaging science. The research and teaching laboratories at the center, established in 1985, are dedicated to electronic imaging, digital image processing, remote sensing, medical imaging, color science, optics and chemical imaging.

Internationally recognized as a leader in imaging, technology, fine and applied arts, and education of the deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology enrolls 14,000 students in more than 230 undergraduate and graduate programs. Its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For the past decade, U.S. News and World Report has ranked RIT as one of the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. RIT is also included in Yahoo! Internet Life’s Top 100 Wired Universities, Fisk’s Guide to America’s Best Colleges, as well as Barron’s Best Buys in Education.


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