Universiteit Hasselt - Knowledge in action


Professor Johannes Schöning receives ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award

At the annual ACM Awards ceremony in San Francisco (USA) on June 15, 2013, Thomas Bartoschek and Johannes Schöning received the prestigious ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award for their project GI @ School. ACM, an acronym for Association of Computing Machinery, is the largest educational and scientific computing organization in the world. ACM has more than 100,000 members, spread across thousands of educational and research institutions and companies. The Eugene L. Lawler Award is awarded every two years to an individual or a group of individuals who have made a significant contribution to the use of information technology for humanitarian purposes in a wide range of social domains. The award includes a financial reward of USD 5,000.

The GI@School project

In 2006 Thomas Bartoschek, currently geo-informatics (GI) researcher at the University of Münster and responsible for local GI@School Lab at the same university, and Johannes Schöning, currently assistant professor of man-machine interaction Hasselt University, joined forces with the intention to set up an innovative geo-informatics project. The project GI @ School immerses students into the world in the world of computing, by offering them a stimulating environment for the development of  geo-informatics applications. The students provide a real contribution to society, by developing solutions to problems their local community is dealing with.

The success of the local project allowed for introduce the project setup to other educational institutions and to export it to countries such as Portugal, India, Venezuela, Russia and Rwanda. Important for the success of the project is a good cooperation between local partners: education (teachers), governments (geographical data) and business (information technology). To assist the teachers in the setup of and in the daily operations of their local project, two-day workshops for teachers are arranged. In these seminars, the theoretical concepts are taught, which are then put into practice in a  follow-up workshop. At these same time, a network has been established, providing a platform for all stakeholders to exchange knowledge and experience.

Prof. Johannes Schöning is pleasantly surprised with the award: "Because of the considerable growth of the importance of geo-informatics to society and the broad range of GI applications, our initiative has lead to an attractive way for young people to deal with the multifaceted world of informatics. Moreover, the students can develop applications, such as a solar cadaster, which are socially relevant. This is obviously a major incentive for the students".

Over dr. Johannes Schöning

Since the summer of 2012, dr. Johannes Schöning holds a position as assistant professor of computer science of Hasselt University. He is active in the Expertise Centre for Digital Media (EDM), the ICT research institute of the university and partner in iMinds ( Dr. Schöning's research area is human-computer interaction (HCI) , one of EDM's core competence areas), with a focus on new methods and interfaces to navigate through spatial information. Before he went to work at the University Hasselt, Johannes Schöning was professionally active at the Innovative Retail Laboratory of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Saarbrücken. Previously, he was a PhD student at the Institute for Geo-Informatics (IFGI) of the University of Münster.

This ACM award is the second award for Johannes Schöning with regard to his geo-informatics activities. A few months ago he received a Google Faculty Research Award, to fund new research plans in geo-informatics. This GI research provides for an attractive extension of the research in HCI, as the first PhD project on GI and HCI will start this summer with funding from Google and EDM.

More information on the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award:

For more information about the award-winning project, GI@School