The establishment of the
Mid-America Remote sensing Center (MARC) grew out of an interest in a relatively
new technology, remote sensing, by a Murray State faculty member in the Department of
Geography in the early 1970's. He generated interest among faculty on
campus including an agricultural economist, a computer scientist, another
geographer, and a soil scientist. That group, supported by the Murray
State University administration, trained and conducted research at the NASA
Earth Resources Laboratory at the Stennis Space Center during the late 1970s.
The group also added a computer systems administrator position during that time period.
The initial group, supported by the Murray State University administration
and NASA, was designated as the "technology to Kentucky" on Nov. 21, 1977,
by Julian M. Carroll, Governor of Kentucky. The MSU Board of Regents
established MARC as a university entity in May 1979. MARC was located
on the top floor of Lowry Center, the recently vacated annex to Pogue
Library. With support from the MSU Foundation, offices, image
processing equipment, map and image libraries and a classroom were acquired
in September 1980.
Through the early and mid-1980's, MARC Associates continued to work closely
with NASA-Stennis in the area of technology transfer as NASA researchers
visited MARC, presented workshops and provided support for faculty, staff
and students. MARC broadened its expertise in Geographic Information
Systems (GIS) at the time, providing services in remote sensing and GIS
locally, regionally and beyond through research projects, workshops,
visiting scholars programs and international exchanges of faculty. In
1987, MARC established a relationship with the MSU Center of Excellence for
Reservoir Research (CRR). That association has been most beneficial as
it broadened the focus of research activities by including new research
faculty and students.
Throughout the 1990s, MARC was instrumental in small-scale ecosystem mapping, being the primary research investigator for the National GAP Biodiversity Project. The 1990s also brought growing relationships with federal government employers, such as the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the US Department of State, and several government contractors and non-governmental organizations, such the National Geographic Society.
Several changes emerged in the decade of the 2000s. The most significant change was MSU/MARC's entry into the Council on Post-secondary Education/Commonwealth of Kentucky's statewide site license agreement with the industry mapping leader, ESRI. The CPE/ESRI statewide license agreement provides all higher education institutions in Kentucky with a complete suite of ESRI software products and a broad selection of online courses, as well as other benefits. Significant portions of the National Broadband Infrastructure Initiative began at Murray State with assistance from MARC and the College of Business/Department of Telecommunication Systems Management.
In 2009, the Mid-America Remote sensing Center moved to new accommodations on the 4th floor of the Blackburn Science Building. The relocation also brought the Department of Geosciences, along with Archaeology, under one roof. The new accommodations provide added classrooms, research and lab space, conference rooms, and faculty offices.