ECE 4194 Engineering Principles of Remote Sensing | ECE | Virginia Tech

Undergraduate PROGRAMS

Course Information


Physical principles involved in remote sensing of Earth's environment and their implementation in engineering systems: fundamentals of electromagnetic wave propagation, scattering by matter, effects of propagation media, passive and active systems, remote sensing platforms, data processing, systems integration, and introductory concepts important for the design and analysis of remote sensing engineering systems.

Why take this course?

Remote sensing is a field that is evolving rapidly as more and more techniques are developed and implemented to address a wide range of scientific and societal problems (e.g., climate change, national security, urban development, etc.). Traditionally, undergraduate courses in remote sensing have been offered through social sciences departments (e.g., geography) or natural resources (e.g., forestry) where the primary emphasis is extraction of higher level information from remotely sensed datasets to meet a specific application. This course provides students with a solid foundation in the fundamental principles of remote sensing theory and techniques while at the same time providing a broad introduction to the diverse applications encompassed by this rapidly developing field.


A grade of C- or better in prerequisite 3106.

3106 with grade C- or better. This prerequisite covers the fundamental theory of electromagnetic waves, which is essential for understanding the principles of remote sensing.

Major Measurable Learning Objectives

  • Describe remote sensing applications and engineering technologies
  • Explain remote sensing techniques in terms of physical processes
  • Analyze remote sensing systems to assess performance
  • Describe remote sensing platforms and systems integration issues
  • Apply remote sensing design concepts

Course Topics


Percentage of Course

1. Origins of remote sensing & review of applications 5%
2. Electromagnetic (EM) waves in free space 15%
3. Interaction of EM waves with matter 15%
4. Interaction of EM waves with Earth's atmosphere 10%
5. Passive remote sensing systems 10%
6. Active remote sensing systems 10%
7. Platforms for remote sensing 10%
8. Data processing 10%
9. System design concepts 15%