New software donated to the
West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and
Design – and created by one of its own alumni – will help forestry students cruise
into their careers using the most up-to-date technology.
Cruise Control is a software program designed to aid foresters in data collection
and processing for forest inventory. Michael McWhorter, a 1986
forest resources management
graduate, designed the software to assist his own
employees at Landmark Forestry in 2000, but soon discovered the program could be
beneficial for all timber cruising operations.
McWhorter donated 10 copies of the Cruise Control software, 10 licenses of OnPoint,
a forestry inventory mapping program, and eight Panasonic handheld devices to the
college worth just over $38,000. The software will be utilized in a variety of
classes and summer forestry camps.
“Exposing forestry students to the latest technology as related to their field of
interest is paramount to having a well-rounded education, as well as being a little
more workforce ready,” McWhorter said.
Cruise Control is a mobile application that is run on a rugged handheld computer
used in forest inventory data collection, also known as “cruising.” Timber
cruising is a way to estimate the amount of standing timber that a forest contains.
A desktop application, OnPoint, allows students to upload the information collected
in the field and manipulate the data and create a host of reports. OnPoint is a
mapping application that is a tremendous tool to natural resources professionals,
“It allows users the ability to create tracts of interest and inventory grids in
several manners. The user can overlay these features onto either topographic
maps or Ortho Imagery,” he said. “The user can use the internal GPS to navigate
to a point of interest or capture the spatial element of a particular point of
Students can see real time inventory results that will aid them in developing a good
judgement of forest metrics.
“This software will allow students to utilize the latest technology associated with
forest inventory activities,” said Davis College
Dean Daniel J. Robison
. “We are grateful to Landmark and Mr. McWhorter for
their generosity and their interest in ensuring our students are using the latest
technology in the field.”
“This will greatly enhance our student’s inventory skills, provide better feedback
during their cruising exercises, and be used throughout the curriculum,” Schuler
said. “This gift will complement student field skills, allowing us to produce high-quality
The inventory system the college used before was archaic and not user friendly, and
it didn’t transfer well to what our graduates would use with industry, consultants
or public agencies. Cruise Control will allow students to generate maps, sampling
points, provide a platform for inventory entry, and generate professional data
McWhorter began selling the software in 2003, with a second iteration sold in 2014.
The software is utilized by private industry, state governments and academics institutions.
“Landmark Forestry has a vested interest in the forestry students produced by West
Virginia University,” said McWhorter, who has also hired a number of WVU grads
to work in his business. “I felt, after meeting with some of the
Division of Forestry
faculty, that the entire learning experience of forestry
students would be enhanced with access to this software.”
These two applications use the basic science and math skills taught in forestry classes
and merges those teachings with technology. Employers will consider the exposure
to a commercial forest inventory program a plus, McWhorter said.
The gift was made through the
, the non-profit corporation that generates and provides support
for West Virginia University.
CONTACT: Julie Cryser, assistant dean of advancement, WVU Davis College of Agriculture,
Natural Resources and Design 304-293-2400;