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In July of 2023, I was the recipient of the University of Florida Research Turorials Abroad [RTA] Award from the University of Florida's International Center (UFIC) and the UF Center for European Studies. My team, including two stuents from the Sustainability and the Built Environment/ Geodesign students, Hayes Duggan and William Olson, collaborated with the host academic unit (the Department of Planning and Construction Economics/Real Estate at TUB) to create historic churches documentation and visualization dashboard. The dashboard provides a helpful and geospatial data-driven Decision Support System (DSS) tool for the project team and client to allocate resources and make critical and strategic operations decisions.

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Destinations Map by William Olson and Hayes Duggan

Summary of RTA research and learning activities

This research experience was designed to help students to engage on the global level with researchers and faculty. It will help also to strengthen the rapport between our two institutions for furthering our research collaboration and students and faculty exchange. Students’ involvement in such rigorous research experience provided a new perspective for their hands-on experience, especially with geospatial applications and data visualization and sharing platforms. Such skills are in high demand by employment and graduate degree admission programs in the areas of urban analytics, geoscience, historic preservation, and other geospatial analyses fields. As such, this experience enhanced their opportunity to excel in the global job market and will increase their competency in the sustainability and resilient design careers. Additional benefits of this opportunity for UF students include:

  •  Cross-cultural experience through collaboration with the German research team and exploring data challenges and resources availability for geospatial field and research.

  • Understanding how cultural heritage sites and structures are contributing to climate change, and the pressing need for preserving, documenting, and digitizing the city’s old and historic structures to help in the decision-making for improvement and rehabilitation processes.

  • Field visits to four (4) churches prior to the documentation/digitization of the total 38 studied structures of the churches to understand the distinction and configurations of each structure based on the year it was built, morphology, building tectonics, site-specific characteristics, and interior space form and materials.

  • Tours in cultural destinations and sustainable and resilient communities enhanced students understanding of sustainability in practice from old to new cities and communities we visited.

Media Coverage

Click on the picture (below) to access the full articel by Kyle Nibblet, published on 08/22/2023:

"Geodesign Specialization Students Spend Summer Researching Churches in Germany."

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Kamal. A., Hayes, D., and Olson, W. (2023). Geotechnology as a Decision Support System for Historic Preservation and Resource Allocation in Berlin, Invited Speakers at the Center for European Studies Symposium, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, September 27.

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Schedule of Activities


June 30 - July 8

  • Friday/Saturday: Orlando, FL to Berlin flights

  • Sunday: City placemaking tour, led by Eena Pavlidou-Reisig:

    • Flughafen Tempelhof (Old Airport cultural placemaking

    • Klunkerkranich (Rooftop renovation public space)

    • Holzmarkt 25 (advocacy planning-driven art district) 

    • Dinner at one of City Center Döner places

  • Monday.

    • On campus: Introduction and meet with TUB team

    • Setting up TUB guest accounts

    • Test ArcGIS software campus license .

  • Tuesday:

    • Lunch with the Dean, Prof. Dr. Kristin Wellner, and the research team (Johanna Sadiki, and Eena Pavlidou-Reisig)

    • Site/Churches tour (four churches visit led by Johanna Sadiki, and Elena Elena Pavlidou-Reisig):
      1- Herz-Jesu (Alt-Lietzow 23 Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf)
      2- St. Mauritius (Mauritiuskirchstr. 1 Lichtenberg)
      3- Herz-Jesu (Fehrbelliner Str. 98/99 Pankow)
      4- Maria-Frieden (Kaiserstraße 28 Mariendorf)

  • Wednesday: Selection of metrics and visual dashboard.
    Discuss prioritization and logistics for the dashboard attributes

  • Thursday: Translate all selected metrics to be integrated.
    Data digitization and projection

    • Historic City Cruise in the Rhine 

  • Friday: Translate and review all database attributes. 

    • Museums visits (Jewish Museum and the Natural History Museum

  • Saturday: Museum visits (Museum of Berlin, Neues Museum, and Berlin Cathedral) and lunch at the Rhein.


July  9 - 15


  • Sunday: Free day (no scheduled activities)

  • Monday to Wednesday:

    • Build ArcGIS online group and test data sharing (within TUB organization)

    • Translate all selected metrics to be integrated

  • Thursday: Continue to build dashboard and graphics/stats 

    • Train trip to Podsdam for the Historic Sanssouci Palace (in the outskirts of Berlin Metro Area)

    • Dinner with the host (Johanna Sadiki)

    • Open air theater and cultural placemaking evening at [Freiluftkino Hasenheide].

  • Friday: Continue to build dashboard and graphics/stats

    • Walking tour in the Tiergarten

  • Saturday: Train trip to Hannover

    • Visit to the city’s historic downtown district.

    • Train trip to “Kronsberg” Sustainable/and Resilient World Expo 2000 District

    • Meet Joseph Benjamin (a UF student in a DAAD-sponsored internship in Hamburg).


July  16 - 20


  • Sunday: Free day (no scheduled activities)

  • Monday.

    • Finalize the dashboard on Berlin ArcGIS Online (AGOL) server.

    • Finalize the destination maps this group visited

    • Publish the dashboard

    • Create RTA destinations map

  • Tuesday:

    • A morning schedule tour to the Rooftop of the Reichtag Government Building​

    • Finalize all edits and publish the dashboard.

  • Wednesday: Final project-exit steps and sharing the dashboard editing guidelines

  • Thursday: Departing Berlin to Orlando, Florida

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