Students creating solutions: FireMAP

Last Updated 5 July, 2017

This fall, computer science major Nick Hamilton will enter his junior year with two summers of research under his belt. The research team he’s been on has worked in partnership with the Boise Forest Service on the FireMAP project. We asked him several questions to get insight on the research and his experience.

Q. Hey, Nick. First of all, what is FireMAP?
A. We’re taking imagery of fires after they have been put out, then running some analytics, that we created, on them that tells how bad it burned and where it burned. So, we’re creating the analytics to the algorithm to run on the imagery we get off of drones to tell how bad the burns are where it burned.

Q. What is the application of FireMAP, then?
A. FireMAP provides Boise Forest Service with more data, so they can better see the effects of the fire and tell how to recover the forest.

Q. That’s awesome! So what has been your favorite part about this research project?
A. Two things. One, I like working with the people here. It’s a lot of fun. And also, I enjoy creating something new and working on a field that, not just at NNU, is being pioneered. Machine learning, in general, is something that is just coming out into our world.

Q. How is summer research different from classroom learning?
A. It just seems more real. I have definitely learned new things working on FireMAP. I actually just got through learning a new programing language. Also, it’s a lot more collaborative since I’m working with other students and my professor.

Q. I heard your team also had the opportunity to educate the community on drones and your project at the Warhawk Air Museum. What was that like?
A. A couple weeks ago, there was a drone day event at the Museum. They invited a bunch of companies and a couple schools over to present what we’re doing with drones. So, we talked about our research there and gave a presentation of how we use drones in the research we’re doing. I enjoy what we are doing, and I enjoy talking about it.

Q. What has been the most valuable part of your experience?
A. Gaining the real life experience of working in an actual work environment and learning new technologies. What we are doing here is very cutting edge.

Learn more about NNU’s computer science program→

Photos courtesy of Dale Hamilton // Department of Mathematics & Computer Science