Adjunct Spotlight: Eamonn Coveney

By Rachel Beck –

As someone interested in geography, graphic design, technology and the outdoors, Eamonn Coveney found that pursuing an education in geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) fit him both professionally and personally.

Coveney teaches general education geography and GIS courses for the College of Science, Technology and Math. When Coveney sat down to discuss his experiences as an adjunct professor, we got into the details of how geography and GIS play an important role in society. “With the advent of cellular technologies, GIS is now everywhere. GIS is used to deliver packages, find route efficiencies, locate emergency 911 callers – everyone who is carrying a cell phone is carrying a GPS unit,” Coveney says.

GIS rendering of property tax per acre in the ArcGIS software environment of Hays, Kansas.

The skills obtained from studying geosciences are in high demand and can be applied in various fields, from engineering to research, science and government. Coveney has experience in several positions, including examining satellite observation and sea ice characteristics as a research assistant on a NASA-sponsored assignment and as an instructor in higher education institutions. Currently, he works in local government designing facility plans, developing 911 systems, gathering field data collections, remote sensing analysis, and handling several other responsibilities.

As an online adjunct professor, Coveney values the opportunity to teach students from various backgrounds and worldviews. While all online courses offer that advantage, geography coursework allows students to really express those different experiences. “It’s great when we are talking about a specific country, and the class includes a student native to that country,” he says. When these students complete assignments within Google Earth, some will include their own personal pictures of significant geographic locations and features, which are shared with the rest of the class. “You, as an adjunct, get a front-row seat to this – an inside perspective you never realized you would get exposed to,” he says.

Classes in the Department of Geosciences allow students to work with mapping software, such as Google Earth. Instead of submitting written material, “Students will turn in a map graphic or Google Earth file to share with the rest of the class that takes us on a tour, illustrating the physical features or cultural characteristics we’re discussing in class,” Coveney says. “This way, our courses offer more of an interactive environment rather than typing text.” 

Along with his professional career, he enjoys adjunct teaching, as it allows him the opportunity to engage with students. “I wanted to have an industry-applicable position. Adjunct teaching allows me to have the best of both worlds,” he says. “I remember having an adjunct professor who had the field experience, and it was taught in a completely different manner than a typical academic textbook-styled course. They brought a unique perspective to the course.”

Regarding his department, Coveney is most proud of the various opportunities offered to students and the cooperation between other departments. Not only do the online programs allow education for students worldwide but also the opportunity for unique certifications in the Department of Geosciences: a certificate in Museum Studies or a cooperative certificate with the Department of Criminal Justice called Crime Mapping and Analysis, …and a Sustainability Certificate in cooperation with Geosciences, Biology, Physics, and interdisciplinary studies.

The specialty of studying and working in geography is valuable, as learning about the world prepares students to enter the world. “It’s great being part of the FHSU community. Serving in a teaching capacity has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had – from general student interaction to the support from FHSU, my colleagues, TILT and the different departments and colleges across campus,” he says.

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