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University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries GIS Day 2023: Map Competition

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries GIS Day Map Competition aims to foster a deeper appreciation for GIS, encourage spatial thinking, and showcase the power of maps in understanding our complex world. Participants will showcase their creativity and analytical skills by creating innovative and informative maps that highlight various aspects of our world or even fictional realms. 

We are thrilled to announce the winners of this year's GIS Day Map Competition, where talented individuals showcased their skills in mapping. 

1st Place Winners:

Landyn Bish and Alexi Caines, Architecture (Teamwork). Map Title: Lincoln NEBRASKA HEALTHCARE SYSTEM and Expansion

2nd Place Winner:

Erik Schulz, School of Global Integrative Studies. Map Title: Nebraska’s Missing U.S. Soldiers from the Vietnam War.

People's Choice Winner:

Nutaila Yaqoob Ayoub Al Hadidi, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Map Title: Exploring Earthquake Magnitudes and Fault Zones in China


Winners and the panel of judges:

Photo were taken by Joan Barnes

Date and Duration: 

The competition will take place during the week of GIS Day (from November 13th to November 17th). 

Competition Guidelines: 

The GIS Day Map Competition is designed to be accessible and inclusive, welcoming participants of all skill levels, including those with no prior GIS experience. We want to emphasize that no specialized GIS skills or GIS software are required to take part in the competition. This competition is an opportunity for students from any background to engage with data and map-making. 

  1. Eligibility: The competition is open to undergraduate students and graduate students of all skill levels (teamwork is also welcome).  
  2. Data: Participants can use publicly available data or their original datasets. Proper attribution and data sources must be provided. 
  3. Software: Participants can use any software of their choice to create their maps (e.g., ArcGIS Pro, ArcMap, QGIS, AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and many other non-GIS software). 
  4. File Format and Resolution: Save your map in a high-resolution file format suitable for printing, such as PDF, JPG, or TIFF. Ensure a minimum resolution of 300 dots per inch (DPI) to maintain image quality. When designing your maps, please take into account that the selected maps will be printed in a poster size of either 24"X36" or 36"X24".
  5. Font Size and Readability: Ensure that all text, labels, and legends are large enough to be easily readable at the chosen map size. Use fonts that maintain clarity and legibility when printed (e.g., Arial, Times New Roman). 
  6. Map Display: All digital Maps will be displayed on our website. Selected maps will be printed and physically showcased in the Love Library.
  7. Maps will be judged by a select group of faculty/staff members, with prizes awarded to the winners.


Participants must submit their digital maps by October 25, 2023, using the following form:

Maps should be accompanied by a brief description (max. 400 words) explaining the map's purpose, data sources, and key insights.


All the digital maps will be showcased on our map gallery webpage, and selected maps will be printed and displayed in the Love Library from November 13th to November 17th.


We have awards for 1st place, 2nd place, and a People's Choice winner. The 1st place winner will receive a $50 gift card, the 2nd place winner will receive a $25 gift card, and the People's Choice winner will be awarded a $25 gift card. We'll also be hosting a reception for the winners to collect their certificates at the Love Library.

Judging Criteria: 

Maps will be evaluated by a panel of faculty and staff members according to the following criteria:

  1. Creativity and originality. 
  2. Clarity of the theme. 
  3. Effective use of data. 
  4. Technical proficiency.

Exploring Map Ideas: Real-World and Fictional Inspirations

If you're unsure about the type of map to create, here are some examples to inspire you: consider mapping real-world phenomena like climate change trends, population migrations, urban development, or delve into the realms of fantasy by crafting maps for fictional worlds like those found in epic fantasy novels, video games, or even your own imaginative creations. Below are two map examples:

Nebraska Map Federal Lands. From: GISGeography (

"Progress Of The Roman Empire, Illustrated By The Course of the River Amazon" (1824) by Emma Willard. From Emma Willard’s Maps of Time By Susan Schulten (

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