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National Cemetery Administration Awards Contract to Texas A&M System to Map Veterans Cemeteries

Students and faculty members in the Department of History, Department of Geosciences, and College of Engineering team up in the development of an immersive and interactive digitized national cemetery experience.

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) has awarded a contract to the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station as part of NCA’s Veterans Legacy Program (VLP) to engage Texas A&M University students, including College of Liberal Arts students, in the development of an immersive and interactive digitized national cemetery experience. 

“We are excited to be partnering with Texas A&M University,” said Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves. “With this contract, we will make great progress towards our goal of ensuring that every veteran’s story continues to be told – even when it is not possible to visit a VA cemetery. This is an important step in ensuring ‘No veteran ever dies.’” 

The $249,832 contract will provide support to faculty and graduate students from Texas A&M’s history department, geography department, and  College of Engineering. Researchers will develop Geographic Information System (GIS)-based applications to allow public contributions to memorialize veterans interred in three VA cemeteries: Houston National Cemetery and San Antonio National Cemetery in Texas, and Alexandria National Cemetery in Virginia. The one-year contract was awarded on Sept.16, 2020. 

“Capturing U.S. veterans’ legacies and enabling virtual visits to their headstones through technology requires a transdisciplinary approach,” said Dr. Stacey Lyle, Texas A&M engineering and geosciences professor of practice, who leads the project. “By transcending disciplinary boundaries between history, geoscience, and engineering, we will preserve and make accessible the stories of American veterans’ great contributions to our freedoms, for all people to experience.” 

Students from Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets will contribute biographical research of veterans interred in those cemeteries and others. The Texas A&M project team will partner with Klein Independent School District in Houston to create GIS-based learning opportunities for students and professional development for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) teachers.

This work will contribute to NCA’s efforts to enhance the on-site national cemetery experience through technology while also extending that experience to citizens who are unable to visit a national cemetery.